eCare: No Dining Room

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eCare: No Dining Room

The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ? Because there is one  bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread.  1 Corinthians 10:16-17

Dear Friends in Christ,

I’m a real fan of the cable TV show House Hunters; it’s the only thing I watch on television other than Masterpiece Theatre on PBS and the Pirates game. Individuals and couples (married and unmarried, gay and straight – but that’s another eCare) are shown three houses with the potential of becoming their “dream home” (and that, too, is another eCare) within the confines of a half-hour program.  For thirty minutes the viewer is subjected to a growing enumeration of features the potential buyer is “not a fan of” and during the last five minutes of the program a house is purchased.  If only a house actually took just thirty minutes to buy in real life – alas…

There seems to be universal agreement on what people want in a new house; one hears the same things from young and old alike in show after show.  People want hardwood floors, granite countertops, stainless steel appliances, barn-sized en suite master bathrooms and an obscene number of bedrooms to accommodate the legion of guests they are sure cannot wait to come and check out their new crib, staying overnight, of course.

It is also clear that most people on the show, though planning to do unprecedented amounts of entertaining do not want a dining room.  Almost without exception when the realtor says “And this is your dining room” the buyer looks around and with a look of bewilderment exclaims “I don’t know what I’d do with this room!”  That’s when I yell at the TV with an exasperated “Your clue is in the name of the room…what you do in a dining room is DINE!”  Most often, the room is turned into a place for yoga, a pool table, a home office or a child’s playroom.

Tastes change I guess but I think they change because life changes and the change in desire for a dining room involves a great deal more than personal preferences in residential construction.  People don’t want a dining room because they don’t need a dining room because families have little or no occasion or intention to sit down at a table and share a meal together.  People still eat – they just don’t dine anymore; and that should raise concerns for more than Ethan Allen and Thomasville.

To suggest that one of the causes for the malaise of our culture is the absence of the family evening meal often evokes a snort, a sigh or the rolling of the eyes from stressed out multitaskers who make their overscheduled lives work by throwing fast food at the kids in the back seat of the car while on their way from one after-school activity to the next and then the next, well into the evening hours.  People with families have no patience for such old-fashioned notions and, literally, no time to eat a family meal together if they were so inclines, which they are not.  The weekends, once a time for rest and recuperation from the hectic pace of the previous five days are now seen as prime time to cram more activities into an already jam-packed life and the family meal time provides the needed discretionary time and is, consequently, regularly jettisoned, if it were even contemplated or desired in the first place.

But the loss of the family meal is, let it be said, a real tragedy with real consequences that are deleterious to the family, its individual members as well as to the society of which the family is a part..  Why?  The answer is that certain things happen around a family dinner table that cannot happen with regularity in any other context.  The dinner table is a place where

  • Family members connect/re-connect each day
  • Family members identify themselves with the people with whom they are most intimately connected
  • Family members find a safe and secure place to be vulnerable and share intimacy
  • Family members share experiences and opinions and where they learn how express what they think, support their ideas and disagree without being disagreeable
  • Family members celebrate events, accomplishments and realized aspirations
  • Family members express hopes and dreams, make plans and work together in a divinely-imaged unity of will, work and word
  • Family members build shared memories and declare future hopes, where oral tradition is kept alive and family narratives are created, remembered and retold

And all of this is accomplished while eating which, by its very nature, is an intimate, personal, vulnerable and self-effacing posture that encourages and promotes the valuable exchanges that can be transacted around the dinner table.  Families that don’t regularly eat a meal together suffer great loss that they may only realize when it is too late to do something about it.

All of which I say by way of a prolegomenon to my invitation to our family meal this Lord’s Day at Beverly Heights.  Christians all around the world will celebrate World Communion Sunday this week and we will gather around the table as the family of God at Beverly Heights.  Coming to the table of the Lord as brothers and sisters in Christ is a unique opportunity for us to enjoy that which we cannot have at any other time and in any other way.  At the table of the Lord

  • We see the symbols, hear the words and participate in the actions that overflow in significance for the believer
  • We enjoy an uncommon time of quiet contemplation of what is important
  • We hear words and phrases that point us to the very meaning of life and hope
  • We consider those truths about sin, death, justice, wrath, mercy, forgiveness, grace and love that are the foundation upon which our lives are built
  • We remember that the life and hope we so often take for granted was purchased for us at the cost of God’s own Son, our Lord Jesus Christ Who died on the cross for our salvation
  • We literally stand shoulder to shoulder with those who are our closest relatives – our brothers and sisters in Christ
  • We sing of the wonder of God’s goodness to us
  • We eat a meal established by our Lord, hosted by our Lord, blessed by our Lord and attended by our Lord
  • We commune with the living God Who is actually among us by His Spirit
  • We are nourished in ways that we cannot imagine or express but will by grace through faith redound unto our strength and vitality in living for Christ’s glory and for the advancement of His kingdom
  • We express our gratitude for all that Christ has done for us on the cross

Let’s not miss out on all of the benefits for which our Savior has established this family meal.  Come home and join us.  As my mother might put it we’ll sit up at 8:40 AM and 11:00 AM  this Lord’s Day.  ‘Hope to see you then.

Faithfully in Him,