Remember when you were a child and your Aunt Ida made everyone go around the table, and one by one you had to say what you were thankful for? You weren’t allowed to dig into the mashed potatoes until you came up with something. Thank goodness that over the years it’s gotten easier for me to find things to be thankful for.
God’s Word tells us all good things come from him. He is the sustainer of life, the great Comforter, our heavenly Father. Praises come naturally as we remember all of the good things and good people he has blessed us with this year.
Every year, the top item on my list of thanks is my people: my family, my friends, my gospel community group. Why? Because connection matters. These are the people I pour my time, talent, and treasures into, and they invest back in me. These are the people I text prayer requests to. These are the people who come running if I’m in need. I belong to them, and they belong to me.
Faith Expressed in Community
Our faith is meant to be lived out in community, and our faith is meant to be seen in community. Sure, you could be an island, but the early church was known by the people around them because of the love they showed each other. They broke bread together. And the Lord added to their number daily.
Our faith is meant to be lived out in community, and our faith is meant to be seen in community.
The best part is this: God invited us, the outsiders, to his table too. He called us by name to come sit with him. He brought us into his family and declared us sons and daughters—a part of the Body of Christ. Why? Because connection matters.
In thanksgiving for all he has done, let’s imitate our Father. Who can we invite to our table this year? Who doesn’t have family nearby or a group of friends they can depend on? Who could use a little connecting, a reminder that they are loved, and someone is rooting for them? Let’s invite someone to the family table to see what Christ’s love looks like among those seated there.
“Jesus didn’t run projects, establish ministries, create programs, or put on events,” Tim Chester reminds us, “He ate meals.”
It is so easy to think of all the reasons why we couldn’t possibly host a Thanksgiving meal or invite someone to dinner. Maybe we’re too busy, we’re broke, our kids are crazy, or our house is messy. Let us instead focus on why we should extend an invitation.
Four Great Reasons to Invite Others to the Thanksgiving Table
- When we share our table, we confirm another’s dignity.
When we invite someone to share a meal with us, we say: “I bought extra food. I cooked (or ordered) a yummy meal. I made sure the wooden blocks were picked up so you wouldn’t step on one. I did this because I would like the pleasure of your company. I don’t expect anything in return. I would like to get to know you, and you are worth all the effort.”
- When we share our table, we mirror the hospitality of our Father in heaven. When God welcomes us home, he will throw a celebratory feast in our honor. He wants as many people to be there as possible. All will be welcome at his table if they choose to come. Jesus’s parable of the wedding banquet in Luke 14 beautifully illustrates God’s hospitality. By welcoming all to our own table, we get to experience a foretaste of glory divine.
- When we share our table, we are reminded that we’re one body.
It’s hard to hold a grudge and simultaneously ask someone to pass the potatoes. As we listen to each other’s stories, we see their passions, we rejoice with them in their victories, and we feel for them in their failures. We’re reminded we are one body, one family, with one goal: showing people who Jesus is.
- When we share our table, we remember what Jesus did on the cross.
Jesus chose bread and wine as memory triggers for us. Why did he choose eating and drinking as his memorial (Luke 22:14–19)? He could’ve chosen anything—prayer, praise songs, jumping jacks. Anything. But he chose food and drink. We eat three times a day to live, to refuel. Jesus wants his sacrifice to be our daily focus to remind us we have hope.
If we lose sight of these precepts, then family meals and even holiday meals become mundane and burdensome. We may become bitter preparing recipes and doing the dishes day after day. However, if we keep our eyes open, we will see the Lord working around our dinner table as we make connections, build relationships, provide accountability, and offer encouragement.
Milady Griffin is editor-in-chief at Part&Parcel Magazine. You can find her on Twitter @partparcelmag or on Instagram @partandparcelmagazine. Part&Parcel is graciously offering IMB readers a 15% discount on all products. Just use the coupon code IMB15 at checkout.
For more ideas on how to make your meals missional, including cross-cultural engagement over your dinner table, check out this article: 8 Tips to Making Your Meals Missional.