I’ve had this growing conviction about reclaiming the table as a point of meaningful connection and relationship over the last few years.  It is indeed quite the challenge to herd my loved ones into one room long enough to share a meal.  They are all busy growing and becoming independent and engaging in their own meaningful endeavours.  So, the significance of coming around the table has been greatly highlighted by the effort to get my family around it! To make this easier, we established some predictable patterns in our family that we frequently review, to create consistency and anticipation.  Sunday lunches belong to the extended clan, to dear friends and to the ‘stranger’.  Hebrews 13:2 tells us, “Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.”  We’ve sought to create a window in our week to bring new people around our table.  It doesn’t happen all the time but that’s the perfect spot to invite people if we have the opportunity. Monday nights belong to our family and we gather around a meal and follow it up with a movie or favourite television series.  We don’t finish late, as work is the next day for most of us, but it has created a lovely point of connection and facilitated communication within our family to keep up to date with what is happening in each of our worlds.  Some weeks are more sharing and laughing, while other weeks have been more chilled and less verbal, but we’ve enjoyed each other’s company regardless. Like anything, though, the normal and ordinary can become the mundane and too familiar if the vision and values of it are not remembered.  So, as the new year unfolds with fresh zeal, I have also wanted to revisit our family’s culture with equal renewed passion.  What continues to stand out as a valuable vehicle for creating strength in our family is the table. As a follower of Jesus, I’m always interested in how He used the common experiences of life to fulfil greater purpose.  That certainly didn’t end at the table.  In fact, the table played a vital role in forming family around Jesus and seeing the Kingdom of Heaven revealed. We sometimes refer to ‘The Lord’s Table’ when we share communion in our church services.  The truth of it was that the Lord’s table was quite literally the dining table, where Jesus shared the annual Passover celebration with his closest friends.  It was also the last meal he would share with them before his death and resurrection.  He used this table, and the very common items of bread and wine, to establish powerful associations to his work on the Cross.  And he encouraged them to continue making those associations for the rest of their lives; to allow the everyday ordinary event of sharing a meal to constantly remind them of the transformative reality of the Cross: 18 “For I tell you that from now on I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.” 19 And he took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” 20 And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.” (Luke 22) This inspires me to reclaim the dining table as a way of forming powerful associations with the life of Christ and with Kingdom values.  I want the atmosphere, the conversation – even the laughter – to reflect something of the beautiful nature of Heaven.  I’m convicted to keep the table a place of peace and ease (in other words, without stress or controversy), of servant-heartedness and sacrifice (which translates as carrying the weight of responsibility for our gathering), of honour and occasion (which doesn’t mean the good silver necessarily but does beg for placemats and sometimes flowers), for genuine sharing, good story-telling, careful listening and loads of life-giving laughter. I also think of the story of Zacchaeus in Luke 19, and consider the incredible significance of Jesus returning to the tax collector’s home to share a meal.  The manner of Jesus in embracing an obvious sinner, and the conversation that ensued, was enough to compel Zacchaeus to right every wrong he had ever committed.  Just think about that!  The love and acceptance that Jesus demonstrated to him, and the truth that was shared at that table, completely transformed the life of a very broken man. I want to reclaim the table, this year, for Kingdom purpose.  I want to re-imagine it, and breathe new life into it, to facilitate Jesus doing the miraculous.  Why don’t you join me?