December 14 I Tuesday
“Moses and Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, and the seventy elders of Israel went up and saw the God of Israel…they saw God, and they ate and drank.” —Exodus 24:9-11
One of my favourite moments over Christmas is gathering around the table with extended families. Now, I do not know if that is going to be possible this year, but I think back to memories of when we could do that. Growing up with a large family, my parents would set out a huge table for everyone.
It does not matter where we are in the world, meal sharing is an important aspect of who we are, as it gives us the opportunity to express hospitality, be generous towards others and share compassion. The shared meal is not only an opportunity to eat, but also to talk and to create memories together. Over this Christmas season, we may spend countless hours preparing and sharing meals at a table. But here’s a question: Where do we think we get that from—the desire to gather around a table and the inherent need to share life over a meal?
The importance we place on sharing life over the table actually comes from the very heart of God Himself, as He created our bodies to need food and human desire for relationships. The table is a central element to human life; it is core to our healthy development. God knew this all along, which was why He set the table for relationship in the Law. From the very outset of God’s relationship with His people, the shared table was a central element in Jewish life. It was a place of reconciliation and rejoicing; it was a guarantee of peace, fraternity and trust. God established and made central the importance of a shared life over table fellowship.
According to the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University, kids and teens who share a family meal at least three times per week are less likely to be overweight, are more likely to eat healthy food, perform better academically, are less likely to engage in illicit behaviour and have better relationships with other children. But as life in the 21st century accelerated, the shared table among families felt the impact. About 60 years ago, the average meal time was 90 minutes; today, it is only 12 minutes because of the fast-paced life we are living.
One of the benefits of the COVID-19 pandemic was that a lot of our busyness had been suspended. With children learning at home, many parents were able to involve them in the cooking process. There was so much opportunity for life on life to be shared during those moments. In this Christmas season, would we consider slowing down our pace and enjoying a family meal around the table?
Prayer: Sovereign God, thank You for creating my body with the need for food and giving me a desire for relationships. I ask that You slow the busyness of my life this Christmas season to enjoy table fellowship with family and friends.