Sharing meals with people I love is one of my favorite things, in part because eating alone is one of my least favorite things. December is typically a time when calendars are packed with events, gatherings, holiday meals, and shared tables. In the midst of this season, I’d like to highlight a few of the tables I’ve gathered around as part of my Care Fresno experience.
At each of the Care Fresno after school programs, we offer snacks. As kids eat their snacks, I enjoy sitting with them to check in with them, ask about their day, and spend time getting to know them before we transition to focusing on homework or another scheduled activity. Neighborhood after school programs provide us with opportunities to meet and build relationships with the kids in our neighborhood and snack time is a great connecting point.
I enjoy taking kids I’ve gotten to know through the after school program on outings that include trips to restaurants or cafes, sometimes to places the kids may not have been to before and sometimes to places that are the kids’ favorites and new to me. On these outings, we experience new things and explore venues beyond our apartment complex together.
At the table in my and my roommates’ apartment, my roommates and I have shared many conversations as we debrief the day together. Sometimes our adult and elderly neighbors fill our table with things like flowers or fruit, accompanied by stories from their lives or advice. Kids have cooked and baked in our kitchen, alternating between eating our food and bringing us food. In the process, we become part of each other’s lives in a deeper way by entering into each other’s daily activities and conversations.
When I think of all the meals and feasts in the Bible, I am led to consider the symbolism of food in the Bible and how tables can be sacred spaces, spaces for worship and fellowship. The Bible gives us the image of a great banquet for when all things will be redeemed and made right. In the book Making Room: Recovering Hospitality as a Christian Tradition, Christine Pohl writes, “A shared meal is the activity most closely tied to the reality of God’s kingdom, just as it is the most basic expression of hospitality.” Through the meals and tables I have shared with the kids in my neighborhood, I have seen glimpses of God’s Kingdom and felt His invitation to commune deeper with Him and others. As you come to the table, wherever you gather this Christmas season, may you experience the love of Christ and anticipation of the banquet that will come when all things have been made right.