We have them in our homes, schools, work places. We fight to get a good space at one in a cafe and we squeeze people around them at Christmas.
Our entire life could be mapped out by a series of events around various tables. From singing Happy Birthday around one, to toasting the bride and groom while behind another, to reading the news and sipping coffee at another table.
Tables are everywhere, and a key part of our lives.
Gathering around a table is something we also find throughout The Bible. Key moments of Jesus’s ministry on earth involved gathering at a table, for meals, teaching, healing, and celebrating.
The most well-known assembling around a table was the last supper found in Luke 22:21, where Jesus broke bread, shared wine, and stated, “But behold, the hand of the one betraying Me is with Me on the table.”
There are three types of tables to consider…
First up, the coffee table.
Today we meet for coffee, much in the same way that Jesus met privately with individuals and small groups for one-on-one conversations with those pondering questions and seeking God. Examples include His conversations with Nicodemus, the Samaritan woman, and the breakfast by the sea. Jesus met with those who believed and those who had no faith. And He took the time to hear their hearts and talk about the Kingdom of God with each person in a personal way.
Think of a table at your local coffee shop.
It’s hard to fit more than three or four people around a coffee table. This table is about growing deeper through intentional conversation with the few.
We continuously find ourselves around this friendly table, having a cup of tea on the sofa, a Bible study with others in a local cafe, or eating a sandwich with a mentor on a park bench.
This table isn’t necessarily built for comfort, but for the conversation that happens around it, the laughter and storytelling, the intimate and vulnerable conversations.
Second up, the dinner table.
Throughout His earthly ministry Jesus gathered with the twelve disciples and others for food and He taught them with passion and fresh perspective on the Kingdom of God. This table is for gathering the family to eat, learn, and pray together.
Jesus loved a good dinner table.
Around a dinner table, we can gather to share a meal and build friendship with those we want to get to know better. We go through the regular rhythm of family life around this table, sharing the news of the day. There are always more seats to welcome in friends and strangers to join with the family at the dinner table.
Just as Jesus ate with sinners, tax collectors and Pharisees, the dinner table is a place where family, friends, neighbors and even strangers can sit together.
At Matthew’s table, the Pharisees asked why Jesus was feasting with tax collectors and sinners. In a classic exchange, recorded by the man who prepared this meal, Jesus explained why he came to this dinner table…
As Jesus sat down to eat in Matthew’s house, many tax collectors and sinners joined Jesus and his disciples at the table. But when the Pharisees saw this, they said to his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” When Jesus heard it, he said, “Healthy people don’t need a doctor, but sick people do. Go and learn what this means: I want mercy and not sacrifice . I didn’t come to call righteous people, but sinners.” Matthew 9:10-13
All are invited to the dinner table to witness and experience what it means to be in the family.
The dinner table establishes a family as they come together on a regular basis. It can be expanded into a dinner party with friends, a group meal, inviting colleagues over for pizza after work and much more, to do and share life together.
And finally, the banquet table.
Jesus loved to attend parties. After attending a wedding, Jesus converted around 160 gallons of water into the finest wine so that the wedding reception could continue.
It is at a party and around a banquet table where we gather with our neighbors and friends to celebrate and recreate.
These big events are excellent places to show off the love of Jesus.
Whether we’re hosting the party or joining someone else’s celebration, we come as disciples of Jesus, carrying his joy and kindness into every feast and festival.
At the banquet table, we gather with family, neighbors, co-workers, and friends to celebrate and recreate.
Coming to the banquet table is always through a personal invite. Come and join so that we may celebrate.
We need to be intentional around each table.
Whilst being a great host and setting up these tables builds community, the key is not to simply ‘lay the table’ but to be at the table. The table isn’t the catalyst in facilitating a Christ-like atmosphere, it is you. In the midst of setting up and maintaining your table, don’t forget to take your seat.
When Jesus noticed how the guests sought out the best seats at the table, he told them a parable. “When someone invites you to a wedding celebration, don’t take your seat in the place of honor. Someone more highly regarded than you could have been invited by your host. The host who invited both of you will come and say to you, ‘Give your seat to this other person.’ Embarrassed, you will take your seat in the least important place. Instead, when you receive an invitation, go and sit in the least important place. When your host approaches you, he will say, ‘Friend, move up here to a better seat.’ Then you will be honored in the presence of all your fellow guests. All who lift themselves up will be brought low, and those who make themselves low will be lifted up.” Luke 14:7-11
So when you’re at a table, do you choose the lesser seat? The wobbly wooden stool squeezed onto the corner or the bench with no leg room at the table? This is the very seat Christ took, the facilitator of our love, our actions, and our conversations.
Jesus is present at each table, bringing an overwhelming sense of love and belonging.
When community is built around tables, we are more embolden to live out of a community true to our calling and in absolute purity of heart, like Christ.
The goal is to do life together around each table on a regular basis, making disciples.
- Think about your posture as you arrive at each of these tables. How can you be intentional about fostering community at each table?
- Think about how you can gather people around each of these tables. At the coffee table how can you intentionally foster deep relationships with individuals? At the dinner table how can you invite people to build community with one another? At the banquet table how can you celebrate in community with an open invitation to those outside your community.
- At which table do you find it easiest to build community and how can you challenge yourself to build community at other tables?
- What needs do you see around you? In your family, friendship group, church, town, do you see a specific need for gathering at one of these tables?
Read Luke’s other Fruitful stories, CLICK HERE
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Here are more free articles, excerpted from the book Your Gifts shown above, one for each of the nine Team Ministry Spiritual Gifts…
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