“Take every opportunity to open your life and home to others.”
Romans 12:13 (The Voice)
I lead a ministry based on hospitality and bring people together at The Turquoise Table Community. Our key verse is Romans 12:13, in which Paul invites us to take every opportunity to open up our life and home to others. And yet, my own family’s dinner time often suffers.
It started a few years ago. Just when I’d get a nice routine going, everything would change. As our four children get older, I feel like I have less control over schedules, activities, homework. Dinner time was becoming more infrequent and frenzied.
On the rare evenings the six of us were able to gather at the table, we brought with us attitudes as bland as the leftovers I often served.
Desperate to reclaim our family dinner I prayed, “Lord show me how to welcome my own family to the table.”
One night, I felt inspired to try something different. Instead of hollering, “DINNER!” from the kitchen, I invited our family to come to the table at 6:30 p.m.
I noticed a pair of silver candlesticks on the buffet in our dining room. A wedding present and kind of fancy for everyday use, we’d never used them before. “Could these candlesticks be the answer to my prayer?”
I brought them to the table, lit the candles, and dimmed the lights. When everyone arrived at the table glowing with the warmth of soft candlelight, their first response was shock.
“What’s going on?” my middle-school daughter asked.
I shared with my family how I longed for special time around our table. In our busy and full lives, we needed each other now more than ever. Luckily, they agreed — even the teenagers. We invited Jesus to join us at the table that night, something we’d been forgetting to do. I said “amen” and looked up to take in the faces of my precious family.
I’ve shared the candlestick story with friends who were in a family dinnertime rut. Encouraged, they decided to try something simple to refresh stale dinner routines, too.
One friend threw a quilt on the floor in the family room and served store-bought sandwiches for supper. She said her children were so shocked by the break in routine and had so much fun picnicking on the floor, no one noticed she hadn’t even cooked! Another friend surprised her family with a special Saturday morning breakfast, complete with cloth napkins and syrup in little pitchers. She learned it doesn’t matter when family meals happen, as long as they happen.
When we pray for God to help us live out his Word, he often answers in surprising ways. For me, it was candlesticks; for my friends, a quilt and little pitchers–simple solutions to remind us to slow down, take time to gather around the table, and invite the Light of the world to join us.
What’s one simple act you can try this week to live out Romans 12:13 at your family dinner table?