“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 families. In some families, spouses take jobs in two different shifts. The husband taking a job on the night shift while the wife working on the second shift allows them to watch the 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 to eat with them every day. That was something special I still cherish; our conversation, sharing bits and pieces from our everyday life, planning for things, etc., was a big part of our family. The Bible also highlights the significance of eating together. In the ancient Jewish culture, coming to the 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 the 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, are somehow more appealing to people and thus brings 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 a 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 about a wide variety of topics that interests people at 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 on casual conversation. Next, getting to know each other helps us open up more and communicate about one’s 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 matter in the group or family. Honest communication can be very meaningful in strengthening the relationship in a family or church small groups. When we are open to talking, 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 at the table but also learning from each other simultaneously. This can be a unifying experience for all involved members of the small group.
| Eating together can be a head start to beginning to know someone and garner a relationship that is built on trust and carried on by honest communication which promotes sharing.|
3) Strengthen Relationships Eating together can set a tone for carrying out meaningful conversations. Opening up and communicating graciously and honestly builds up each other and overcomes divisions and rifts that ever existed. It brings healing to broken hearts and renews and strengthens relationships. Eating together just gives you a sense of intimacy. To have this sense of gratitude and belonging in the group is to have confidence in members of the small group. In this sense, we hold each other accountable.
4) Promote Sharing Ministry is teamwork. Any group that maintains a healthy relationship with group members, and communicates effectively and clearly will most likely succeed in the mission or ministry. Sharing requires the trust of each other in the group. Without having known each other and bonded with group members, people cannot merely share their lives, issues, struggles, or anything personal. The level of trust in the group determines how much one is ready and open to sharing. Therefore, the idea of sharing your personal life and struggles with someone certainly requires that you can trust and count on the person or group you are with. Eating together can be a head start to beginning to know someone and garner a relationship that is built on trust and carried on by honest communication which promotes sharing. So, be sure to include others, since the Gospel narratives make known Christ is too often around the table with bread and wine.