Discipleship and the Family Meal

Yesterday, I shared some thoughts from Eugene Peterson in Christ Plays in Ten Thousand Places about the importance of the dinner table in living out the Eucharist in our everyday lives (Read it here). Today, I want to explore the idea of the dinner table as a location of where discipleship (and even evangelism) takes place. This may not be much of a stretch to think this- but in our fast-paced, microwave world discipleship and evangelism are much more akin to a slow cooker. They both take time, preparation, and the building of relationships.

The family or shared meal can be a vivid reminder of the sacrificial work that Jesus did for each of us. Peterson writes,

“In our meals, we participate in and practice the elements of a sacrificial life as one life is given so that another may live. It may be the life of a carrot or cucumber, it may be the life of a fish or duck, it may be the life of a lamb or heifer. But is it also our lives, given to the others in generosity and service. Eating a meal involves us in a complex, sacrificial world of blessing and breaking. Life feeds on life. We are not self-sufficient. We live by life and the lives given to and for us.”

Meals become an opportunity to remember the sacrifice that Jesus made for us. Without Jesus’ death, we would have no life. Meals are an opportunity to remember that we are to sacrificially serve those around us- because Jesus has done so for us.

Luke writes these words of Jesus’ last meal with his disciples: “After taking the bread and giving 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.”

When we gather around the dinner table and take the bread, or eat some steak, or smell the asparagus- it is an reminder for us to remember that we have life because of death. Specifically, we have life because of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ and the love of God. The meal becomes a powerful arena for discipleship to occur. To remember the story. Or maybe for someone who has never heard- to hear about life coming from death.

Let me close with one more thought from Peterson:

“So what do we do? We take the meal with as much gospel seriousness as we take our Scriptures; we take the kitchen to be as essential in the work of salvation as the sanctuary. Meals are front-line strategies countering the inexorable deconstruction of hospitality that is running amuck in the Western world today. The meal is a focal practice for reenacting in our dailiness all that is involved in the eucharistic meal in which we participate in the sacrifice of Christ for the salvation of the world.”

About Steve LaMotte

Husband of Andrea and father of four amazing children. Pastor at Avenue United Methodist Church in Milford, Delaware.
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