“And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts,…” Acts 2:46 ESV.
“So then, my brothers and sisters, when you gather to eat, you should all eat together.” 1 Corinthians 11:33 NIV
This “eating together” is not unusual for some, especially with friends and coworkers. On the other hand, it is a very big thing for some. In the hustle and bustle of our everyday life, we find it hard to have a meal together with family. People take two or three jobs to provide for their family. In some families, spouses take jobs in two different shifts. Husband taking job at night shift while wife working on second shift allows them to watch kids at home. When was the last time some of you had dinner together with your family? It was most likely the weekends or holidays for some! Dining together is a very special ritual for my family. My parents always expected all four of their children to come eat with them every day. That was something special I still cherish; our conversation, sharing bit and pieces from our everyday life, and planning for things etc., was big part of our family. The Bible also highlights about the significance of eating together. In the ancient Jewish culture, coming to table and eating together was a matter of spirituality. It required them to keep the Old Testament dietary laws and also maintain table etiquette by staying ceremonially clean. Without going into the details of dietary laws of the Bible, let me explain why we should dine together as a family or church small-group.
1) Getting to Know Each other Food or hard liquor, they are somehow more appealing to people and thus bring people closer. We can see how quickly food or drink can turn perfect strangers to connect and relate to each other as if they had known each other for ages. When we invite someone or go with a group to eat together, we talk. Don’t we? As we talk, we also start opening up. That helps us to know about each other. Knowing each other is important to bond in a relationship, thus it fosters warmth and sense of belonging. It also helps a new member of the group connect to the core group members. I see the invitation to the table as a genuine effort to know them personally.
2) Strengthen Communication Communication is vital in every relationship. As we come to eat together, we may talk on wide varieties of topics that interests people in the table once we get to know each other. Everyone in the group can be asked about their input on certain things or simply carry casual conversation. Next, getting to know each other also helps us to open up more and communicate about ones well-being. When we listen to each other or show interest in someone’s story, it demonstrates that the person is valued and his or her ideas or opinions do matter in the group or family. Honest communication can be very meaningful to strengthen the relationship in a family or church small-groups. When we are open to talk, we can express ourselves and accordingly plan things for the best interest of the group. Eating together now means we are not merely communicating ideas in the table but also learning from each other at the same time. This can be a unifying experience for all involved members of the small-group.
| Eating together can be a head start to begin to know someone and garner relationship that is built on trust and carried on by honest communication which promotes sharing with each other.|
3) Strengthen Relationship Eating together can set a tone for carrying out meaningful conversations. Opening up and communicating graciously and honestly builds up each other and overcomes division and rifts if ever existed. It brings healing to the broken hearts, renews and strengthens relationship. Eating together just gives you the sense of intimacy. To have this sense of gratitude and belonging in the group is to have a confidence in members of the small-group. In this sense, we hold each other accountable.
4) Promote Sharing Ministry is a teamwork. Any group that maintains healthy relationship with group members, communicate effectively and in clarity will most likely succeed in the mission or ministry. Sharing requires trust of each other in the group. Without having known each other and bonded with group members, people cannot merely share about their lives, issues, struggles or anything that’s personal. The level of trust in the group determines how much one is ready and open to share. Therefore, the idea of sharing your personal life and struggles with someone certainly requires that you can trust and count on the persons or group you are with. Eating together can be a head start to begin to know someone and garner relationship that is built on trust and carried on by honest communication which promotes sharing with each other. So, be sure to include others, since the Gospel narratives make known of Christ too many times around the table with bread and wine.