During my freshman year of college, I joined a campus ministry. The women in the years ahead of me were intentional, loving, and kind, taking me and several other girls under their wings. We joined small groups, went to weekly services, and attended church together, forming friendships that were rooted in Jesus and had a strength I had never experienced before. These women became my role models and best friends. However, by far my fondest memories came from the times we gathered around a table and shared meals together.
Whether we were meeting at a local diner as a large group, were invited into someone’s apartment to enjoy a home-cooked meal, or were meeting at a local coffee shop for a one-on-one, so many beautiful moments happened around a table. As each gathering took place, I began to understand more and more what it looks like to recognize God’s goodness and grace. These wonderful ladies were my confidants, cheerleaders, and accountability partners, knowing when to encourage me, lovingly call me out of my sin, and empower me to become who God created me to be.
What made these conversations easier and entirely more fun was the fact that we were sharing a meal together. The table became our sacred space, full of the people we loved most in the whole world. While sharing a meal, we told stories, confessed sins, and shed tears of both sorrow and joy. We talked about our past and shared the testimonies of what God had done in our lives and the seasons He brought us through. We talked about our present struggles and what we were praying through. We talked about our futures and the dreams we had for relationships, careers, and where God wanted us to be. We prayed for each other—earnest and deeply spiritual prayers.
Around those tables, no matter how big or small, were some of the first places I ever felt the physical presence of the Holy Spirit. These Godly women represented Jesus in a whole new way, affirming His love, kindness, and desire to serve and provide nourishment. I also recognized that we don’t only eat to sustain ourselves ⎯ there’s more to food than simply being fed ⎯ we eat to connect with others and create a long-lasting and meaningful community.
Understanding this, it’s beautiful to me that there are examples in the Scriptures of God showing up when people are sharing meals around a table: the Passover, Communion, the Last Supper. N. T. Wright, a New Testament scholar, wrote: “When Jesus himself wanted to explain to his disciples what his forthcoming death was all about, he didn’t give them a theory, he gave them a meal.”
It was also spoken by Isaiah, the Old Testament prophet, that in the coming day, when God beats death forever and has His power come to complete fullness, that there will be a great feast. In verses 6-8 of chapter 25 of the book of Isaiah, he states:
“On this mountain the Lord of hosts will make for all peoples a feast of rich food, a feast of well-aged wine, of rich food full of marrow, of aged wine well refined. And he will swallow up on this mountain the covering that is cast over all peoples, the veil that is spread over all nations. He will swallow up death forever; and the Lord God will wipe away tears from all faces, and the reproach of his people he will take away from all the earth, for the Lord has spoken.”
Let’s gather around a table and show up for each other in this way until the day Jesus returns. Let’s serve each other, prepare a feast, and wipe away each other’s tears. Let’s help each other carry the heavy loads that life can bring, rejoicing that we have salvation in the Lord.
I challenge you in the next week to gather all of your best friends, gather your family, gather the couple that just started going to your church, gather coworkers, gather complete strangers … just gather. Order take out or delivery, make the food yourself, or maybe do it potluck style. Gather everyone into a room, turn off the television, put phones away. Gather around a table and be nourished—both physically and spiritually—recognizing that God will provide for and sustain you, especially in the form of His most favorite creation: people.