Why the Table is the Secret Ingredient

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One of the central occurrences of the holiday season is the gathering of family and friends around a table. It is one of the rare times in our modern lives that the table becomes central in our homes. But what if this wasn’t just the case during Thanksgiving and Christmas? Turns out, if we brought back the table, we would dramatically change the world we live in and help return us to our rootedness in Christ.
If we were to make the table the most sacred object of furniture in every home, in every church, in every community, our faith would quickly regain its power, and our world would quickly become a better place. The table is the place where identity is born- the place where the story of our lives is retold, re-minded, and relived.
Humans are wired for story. We become our stories. When we go in search of our identity, we don’t look for values or principles or worldviews; we look for fireworks in the sky, synapses that cause our cells to fire together and wire together. Story and image are the protons and neutrons swirling in the cells of our self-concept. At the subcellular level, we don’t crave a tablet full of values and principles and props; at the core of who we are, we crave a narraphor. (a story with metaphors that help us understand the world, ourselves, and God better).
Given that our culture’s primal, primary language of identity is narraphor, our families and churches ought to be flourishing! But something is missing from our lives- something that nourishes us with the narraphors that build our identity and stabilize our relationships. We know that families are defined by the stories they generate, by the stories they rememeber together over and over. Christian families are defined by the story of Jesus and God’s relationship to humanity throughout history. And this story of our identity as a Christian people is relayed through the narraphors we tell ourselves, our children, and our grandchildren around the table generation after generation. Narraphors are our “table talk”. But modern Christianity has sold out to a fast-paced, word-based, verse-backed, principles-driven template for truth. a handy little tablet of rules and regulations.
The thing is, truth is not a template. Truth is a person. And our relationship with Jesus- the Way, the Truth, and the Life- happens when narraphors are passed around the table. Stories build our identity as a person and a as a people. And the server, the platform, is the table.
The story of Christianity didn’t take shape behind pulpits or on altars or in books. No, the story of Christianity takes shape around tables, as people face one another as equals, telling stories, sharing memories, enjoying food with one another.
From Tablet to Table award
Dive deeper on how to find and create community in From Tablet to Table by Leonard Sweet. It’s a great resource during the holiday season and beyond.

1 thought on “Why the Table is the Secret Ingredient”

  1. Hospitality means primarily the creation of free space where the stranger can enter and become a friend instead of an enemy. Hospitality is not to change people, but to offer them space where change can take place. It is not to bring men and women over to our side, but to offer freedom not disturbed by dividing lines.
    Henri Nouwen


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