Life Happens at the Table
By: Tom Grosh IV, DMin
September 24, 2019
“Anything worth doing sucks you in. If I have an important meeting or a big deadline, I wake up thinking about it, and all I want to do is get to the office to focus on it. Breakfast easily gets sacrificed on the altar of either my nervousness or my hunger for productivity….” — Justin Whitmel Earley, The Common Rule: Creating Habits of Purpose for an Age of Distraction
As explored in Habits Always Frame Our Day, the trellis provides a helpful image for framing one’s daily habits and engaging in the practice of kneeling prayer three times a day. I pray that this week’s challenge to identify one’s center of gravity compels one to add eating at least one meal a day with others to “the trellis.”
- What is the center of gravity of your daily routine?
- How does your relationship to food affect your relationship to community for better or for worse?
In The Common Rule: Creating Habits of Purpose for an Age of Distraction, Justin Whitmel Earley boldly states, “Our need for food says something profound about us. It says we need God, we need others, and we need the created world.” Ever consider how stubborn our bodies are? No matter how hard we may try to ignore eating, created beings must eat. Furthermore, despite our amazing skill set, we cannot snap our fingers to satisfy our hunger. Upon reflection, a long complex process lies behind the food in the garden, grocery store, kitchen, cafeteria and dishes on the table.
Over dinner my family shares stories of thankfulness for the good gifts of the Lord. With my twin daughters in college and no longer at the evening table, I pass along our household’s praises via texting. What a joy when my twin daughters send back brief reports on their day and an even greater joy when we all assemble over break to share dinner together.
If you are married and/or have children, I pray your household will be a school of Christ’s love with the table being a vital part of the community. Whatever your current life situation, I encourage you to invite “the neighbor” to a meal. At Penn State Hershey College of Medicine, CMDA offers meals to
- Returning students at the beginning of new academic year,
- First year students before their first exam,
- Participants in the weekly Monday night Bible study,
- Attendees of the monthly Lunch Lecture, and
- Those who engage in special times of celebration throughout the year.
Yes, even in academic and professional life, the table is where life happens. It takes intentionality not only to be at and interact with others at the table, but also for the table to be a place of Christ’s love. When the table we set at PSU-Hershey has extra chairs for those “outside” to “come in,” we embody the gospel. The bridges that are built enable people to take next steps toward Jesus through Christ-centered lives, hospitality, conversation and relationships. “In our modern moment, the table is going to be the frontier for evangelism.”
Let us share Christ’s love around the table by…
- Finding a meal with one’s family, roommate(s), small group or peer(s) to anchor your daily schedule.
- Creating a standing lunch in your department, school or workplace.
- Participating in and/or hosting a regular meal in your community.
- Partnering with CMDA in their local ministry.
- If you desire to assist CMDA in providing meals for the next generation of healthcare professionals through our regular ministry, please use the contact form on the CMDA South Central Pennsylvania homepage. Thank you.
May our “house” incarnate and extend Christ’s love. Forgive us for when we have not extended Christ’s love to our neighbor. Grant us the grace to set aside our busyness not only regularly to join others at the table, but also to invite “the outsider” to the table. Stir within us the longing to be hospitable, to serve, to listen patiently and to choose our words wisely. May all that we say and do around the table point to you.