“When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them.” Luke 24:30 NIV
These words were recorded by Luke, recounting Jesus’ interaction with two of his followers on the road to Emmaus. One of the most common things we see Jesus doing throughout his life and ministry is spending time with people around a table, having a meal. Jesus often chose the dinner table as a place to welcome sinners and befriend people who society deemed outcasts. Time upon time, table fellowship provided not only a physical need, but something much deeper. Jesus connected with others and made them feel loved around the table. Additionally, several times in Scripture, we see Jesus break bread and give it to the people in his midst as a symbol of his brokenness on their behalf. In this, we see his love for us, we see his redemption, and we give thanks.
As we approach our family tables this Thanksgiving, our world feels very different than ever before in recent memory. Holiday celebrations will temporarily change for many of us. We are weary. We are burdened for those who have lost loved ones to COVID-19. We grieve those precious lives. We pray fervently for doctors and nurses who are working so hard to take care of the sick. We think of people facing poverty worldwide. We are broken.
And yet, we remember. Jesus assured us that he not only knows our brokenness, but he broke himself for us. His redeeming love is restorative.
Thinking about the biblical symbol of the table, combined with our hurting world, we have opportunities to respond. How can we open our hearts, homes, and tables to people who need love? Currently, there is a tremendous need across the globe for vulnerable children and families to be supported. In her book, The Gospel Comes with a House Key, Rosario Butterfield encourages us to practice what she calls “radically ordinary hospitality.” This doesn’t look like fussy primping and tidying. It isn’t entertainment. It is simply sharing what you have with others. One way to show “radically ordinary hospitality” is to think about a family in your life who might be struggling. Perhaps a single parent. Maybe a young couple who are expecting and had not planned for that to happen. Would you consider welcoming them to your table on a regular basis, to offer a listening ear and encouragement?
Another way to extend biblical hospitality is to open your heart, home, and table to a child who needs a temporary safe place to stay. Or, perhaps you are feeling led to pursue adoption. Alternatively, there are foster and adoptive families who would be encouraged to be invited to your table for rest and community. Sometimes, the best way to love a foster or adoptive family is also to bring them a meal, so they can gather around their own table at the end of a long day. Preparing a family meal can feel especially overwhelming in the midst of helping kids process trauma and a new environment, so this seemingly small act of kindness actually lays a surprisingly deep foundation.
For whom would you like to make room at your table to love?
There is room at God’s table for you, no matter what your role in offering “radically ordinary hospitality.” You don’t have to have it all together. You are invited to bring your brokenness to the table when you love others through their brokenness, because Jesus broke for you. With hope, follow the One who loves you, redeems you, restores you, and has made room at His table for you.