For anyone who has been blessed with the joy of parenthood, especially if you are raising multiple little ones, you soon learn that parents must set aside periods of time when you and your spouse can be alone together. Although children may believe that the universe was created to cater to their every desire, most parents know that they need to find some time away from their cute little clouds of chaos, otherwise their eyes have a high probability of becoming permanently fixed in the crossed position. For my wife Lori and me, we often find the best time for our “cone of silence” is early in the morning, usually well before our munchkins rise. Our almost daily ritual of prayer, Bible reading, rich coffee or tea, and breakfast with each other is something we tend to protect like a ravenous pit bull standing over his T-bone steak.
Imagine the look of panic that flashed across my face when my six year-old began to insist that we sit and eat with her and her two siblings. It’s not that Lori and I are not close at hand as they eat. Usually while they eat, we are scurrying around packing lunches, getting their clothes ready, making beds, or doing other pre-school day chores. Now though, I had a vision of our tranquil morning ritual being supplanted by a messy meal time with three non-stop talking youngsters arguing over silly things like who said what or who did what to so and so. Nevertheless, pressing past the initial shock I realized that her request struck a chord deep within me. I pondered, “Why was breakfast with me such a big deal for her?” Thankfully, I picked up on how God was prodding me with a teaching moment as I began to see just how important meal time together is.
For we humans eating is so much more than merely a necessary task we do to refuel our bodies. When it comes to taking in our food, God could have made us a number of different ways. Thankfully He did not make us like a clam, passively sucking in everything that floats past our mouths, or like a mosquito with its singular appetite for blood. There is a reason God formed us with a tongue that has over ten thousand taste buds. Not only did He intend that we enjoy the taste of food, He has given us an internal desire for meal time to be a social event, something that should be shared with others. God never intended that meal time be a racing event, where the winner’s prize is going to the person who wolfs down his food the fastest. It took the innocence of my little girl’s request for me to really reflect about how meal time is something we need to enjoy with each other.
As I reflected more about meal time I considered how God even chose a meal time to reveal one of the greatest events of human history: the Passover meal with its various foreshadows pointing to the coming of the Messiah. Stories abound in far Eastern history of elaborate feasts used to commemorate significant events. Oftentimes the coming of a stranger with news from afar was celebrated with a feast, such as the killing of the special “fattened calf.” Saul was highly insulted when David failed to come to a new moon feast two days in a row because it was a great honor to eat at the king’s table, and for someone to avoid the king’s table was an insult (1 Sam. 20:18-30). Clearly, eating together is an honored event and about much more than the mere act of eating.
The importance of meal time shines for every believer when we consider that it was during a meal with his twelve apostles that Jesus instituted a memorial that his followers were to do in remembrance of him, which is to continue until he returns. This memorial has tremendous significance for every Christian, and it speaks loudly to me that it involves food and eating. We celebrate the communion meal where we eat broken bread and drink wine, symbolic of Jesus’ broken body and shed blood. During this memorial we reflect upon the sacrifice of Christ, but we also are reminded that we are members now of God’s family, and families eat together!
In the book of Hebrews God tells us not to forsake meeting together (Heb. 10:25). Far too often people have mistaken this instruction to mean that we should not stop going to “church,” but meeting together does not only mean having “meetings.” Some of the greatest times with others occur over a meal. Most families have traditions such as the Thanksgiving dinner or Christmas dinner together with extended family of siblings, aunts, uncles, and grandparents, etc. If your “meetings” lack some life and vibrancy, then consider jump-starting them by sharing a meal together. In our fellowship we always tease, saying, “If you feed them they will come,” because including food with our fellowship has a way of filling up the house. Remember, just like my little girl reminded me, meal time is family time and God’s family should be enjoying the benefits of eating together. Consider occasionally making your meeting time a meal time.
 1 Corinthians 11:23-26 (23) For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, (24) and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.” (25) In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.” (26) For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.