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home : religion : religion November 23, 2017

9/24/2017 12:01:00 AM
Emanuel's Table
Charles R. Swindoll — 'Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it.'
Charles R. Swindoll — 'Life is 
10% what happens to you and 
90% how you react to it.'

Rev. Susan Smith Walker
Emanuel Reformed Church

Recently I saw a commercial where a mom in the front seat is feeding her three children fast food in the back seat on a busy day. The narrator says “Whatever happened to eating at the table?” and the mom snaps back “That’s what the cup holders are for!”

I laughed, but that ad points to a sad truth. The shared family meal at the table is becoming extinct. We eat on the run in our cars, at our desks at work, and in front of the TV at different times in our homes. Families just don’t eat together like we used to.

Several months ago I wrote about the demise of cooking and the future of covered dish dinners in the church. Will they become fast food dinners too? Who will cook the delicious casseroles and desserts in the days to come if we are all eating in our cars and teaching our children how to eat in the back seat? 

House of Trophies - Retirement

A reader suggested that my church create a cookbook of our cherished dishes to preserve their existence and encourage others to learn how to cook them. The Women’s Fellowship at Emanuel Reformed Church was quick to embrace the idea and we are working on it now. It has been great fun to design it and gather the recipes. If all goes as planned, we will have them for sale in the Christmas giving season to raise funds for our benevolence fund.

We had to decide on a name, and I believe everything we do in the church is for God’s purposes. This cookbook would be more than a collection of recipes! Anyone can create a cookbook. How would ours be different? How could the beloved dishes of our church be a tool in God’s hand?

We named it “Emanuel’s Table” because it expresses the spiritual blessings inside. “Emanuel” means “God with us” so “Emanuel’s Table” means “God with us at the table”. We want these recipes to be a vehicle for getting people to sit at the table for a shared meal where God can help us connect with each other in a spiritual way.

Some scholars say that Jesus ate his way through the gospels. Eating with his followers was his way of being present with them spiritually. Sharing food and enjoying fellowship created a spiritual environment where he could get to know them and teach them in a relaxed manner. Even after he was resurrected, he chose mealtime to reveal himself. In Acts 10:41 Peter describes this saying “He was not seen by all the people, but by witnesses whom God had already chosen – by us who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead.”

Wherever two or three are gathered at the table in his name there he is with us. We want the “Emanuel’s Table” cookbook to move people to have at least one shared family meal at the table weekly. Turn the TV off and don’t bring the phones to the table! Talk, listen, be fully present, and let the Lord bring you closer together. Eating fast food together at the table instead of the car is a step in the right direction, but homemade chicken casserole can’t be eaten in the back seat. You must come to the table for that kind of deliciousness, and someone has to know how to cook it.

Rev. Susan Walker is pastor of Emanuel Reformed Church

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