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Set the Table!

Donna Jennings, 27/11/19

We do them around 21 times a week. But so often we have them it alone. Eating meals together can be something that changes us and others completely. Donna Jennings explores more…

Set the Table!

 SET THE TABLE WITH STATISTICS*:

55% young people know an active Christian.

33% young people are unsure if they believe in God. 

1 in 6 (16%) young people are open to an encounter with Jesus after a Christian speaks with them about Him.

However:

45% young people say they do not know an active Christian.
48% young people say the Christian they know has never talked to them about Jesus.

Statistics tell us that we are surrounded by individuals who are ready to hear us talk about Jesus! Everyday conversations and sharing stories are powerful calalysts that lead people to say yes to Jesus!

 Set the table to talk Jesus!

 

SET THE TABLE: JESUS’ STRATEGY:

“The Son of Man came eating and drinking and you say ‘Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners’. Luke 7.34

Reading through the gospels, we see Jesus’ talking as he is eating a meal, going to a meal, or about a metaphoric meal. If Jesus had a method or a strategy of evangelism, surely it was eating and drinking with people who were far from God?

Early Church history the table was central to the sharing of faith. Stories of who Jesus was, what He did and said, shared around the table – and so faith in the person of Jesus spread from table to table.

Supernoodles, sausages, sandwiches or souffle – Whatever you can offer – Set your Table – and talk Jesus!

 

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SET THE TABLE for sharing stories

Sharing Christian faith in our post–truth culture seems to be more and more tricky, leaving Christians fearful of offending their friends, or in a no–man’s land with no valid voice.

Sitting around a table, sharing food and stories together creates a level playing field. We all have a story of a transformed life with Jesus, the table becomes a safe place where your story can be told with validity and freedom, and invitation to taste and see that He is good! Be a guest at another person’s table, put yourself in the place of receiving from and being with them, on their terms.

Set the table, or sit at another’s table with a posture of humility, speaking Jesus with and not to friends, sharing your faith with and not at friends – and share your story with humility and love.

SET THE TABLE for deliberate discussion

Casseroles and climate change. Falafel and fake news. Hamburgers and homelessness. Beans and Brexit. Is there an any experience of life into which our Christian faith cannot speak? Is there any human experience which Jesus’ renewing work cannot transform?

“The whole point of Christianity is that is offers a story which is the story of the whole world. It is public truth.” Tom Wright 

Set the table ready for conversations where we eat, listen, think. Share food and share the Biblical story from creation to re–creation, over real life issues, current breaking news and personal experiences. Offer food, and offer our historic story of faith in its fullness as a real, relevant, and appealing way of life for the real world.

 

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SET THE TABLE for intimacy and presence

“If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person and they with me” Revelation 3.20

Whatever different backgrounds, beliefs or baggage we bring to the table – sharing food together beckons us into an intimate community around our shared, limited experiences of being human. We all need to eat, we all need relationship. We were created in dependence on God’s provision – and created in dependent relationships with each other.

Sharing food together creates a community of trust and open hearts – the table becomes a place where we muse over memories, share our struggles, express our hopes, divulge our difficult heart questions…and where we encounter Jesus.

Pray. Make yourself present to where, and among who He is working in His world. Invite Jesus and invite those who might be open to meet Him around your table. Set a table which invites a presence to each other; a presence to our limited humanity; a presence to the Person of Jesus moving and working among us, as the unseen guest.


SET THE TABLE to celebrate in worship

“In the presence of the Lord your God, you and your families shall eat and shall rejoice” Deuteronomy 12.7

We usually think of fasting as the primary spiritual act of worship related to food – and forget about the importance of feasting as we share food and table.  Somehow, when we do celebrate – we exclude the person of Jesus from our feasts!

Our Christian story is a story of joy, of hope, of life! Amidst the political, financial, cultural uncertainty and confusion, Christians are called to live as an unanxious presence. We are the good news people, who live with purpose, direction and hope. And so, each mealtime becomes a spiritual act of worship as we pause, acknowledge, receive and respond to every good gift that has been given come the unchangeable Father.

Set the table, and set aside Christ in your hearts as Lord (1 Peter 3.15). Speak small, short words of hope filled thanks, that will provoke questions from the friends around our table – questions, for which the only answer is – Jesus.


SET THE TABLE

Super noodles, sandwiches sausages or souffle – Set the table!

Set the table with invitations, and with intention to talk about Jesus; Set the table with expectant hope, that through meaningful mouthfuls and missional moments, the Person of Jesus, the unseen Guest will meet you there – and you will be filled.


Donna Jennings

Donna works with the Evangelical Alliance in Northern Ireland as the Church & Mission Coordinator. 

* Statistics taken from a survey in England here which is bound to have variations on our cultures, but still shows some relevance to the point!