Creating a lifegiving table is an intentional act of gathering, blessing, eating, sharing, and serving.
This week, I have had Sarah, Thomas, Joel and Joy (and sweet Lily) at my table for meals, tea time, breakfast and snacks in between. To hear the ideas they are swimming in—theology, the ever present and ever powerful love of God even in an evil world, the need for hearts to be reignited, the importance of education and helping people know how to think, why liturgy and arts are so important in imagining the vastness of God’s beauty and creativity and how that shapes our lives and so much more.
Again, I have been struck with how it was the verbal environment, the pleasure of talking over thousands of meals, the cooking that had to be done, the planning and shopping that took place, and of course the dirty dishes at the end—were, well, endless. Yet the fruit of such friendships, the fruit of their passion for God and His word and for writing and speaking and passing on legacies of messages came from the many years spent at our table, one little meal, one little conversation, one little community of imperfect Clarkson seeking to be intentional at a time.
The story of the Clarkson family has been written at tables. Not with pen and paper, but with words and people, food and fellowship, talk and time. Whatever kind of table it might be—breakfast, lunch, dinner; picnic or deck; plain or fancy; small, tall, wood, metal, or rock; bare or cloth-covered; even the ground—it becomes our family table when we sit down together to eat and drink and be and belong. The delightful fruits of God’s creation we share together fill and fuel us as God’s life- breathed and image-bearing creatures, and our shared story grows from the table’s Spirit-infused life coming alive in us.
I believe that’s true for all of us.
When we sit at our tables, we’re not just an aggregate of individual family members eating and drinking to stay alive; we’re a congregation of communing souls hungering and thirsting to experience the goodness and beauty of the life God has designed just for us. Even the simplest supper, meal, snack, or teatime can become, in some way, a feast—a lavish celebration of the living God’s life and goodness. It’s not just about the physical act of eating, but about sharing and enjoying life as God designed and gave it to us. That is the essence of the lifegiving table.
Yet, something that I have realized and talk about in today’s podcast is that in order for this life to take place:
our hearts must be prepared every day, every meal, every opportunity to share, from the fullness of my own heart, the truth, the encouragement, the affirmation, the challenge that I have cultivated over the years in order to pour into my children as a wise experienced mentor would do.
I fill my heart so that I can give wisdom, extend love, challenge their ideas and beliefs and shape the way they think about life.
Where there is no intentional host of a lifegiving table, it could just be one more meal eaten with no life passed on.
Our table time contains several key elements …
Bless: We Thank God
Eat: We Break Bread
Share: We Open Hearts
Serve: We Give Ourselves
Join me for a podcast discussion of these ideas, today!
Here’s a family favorite recipe …
A recipe I like to make when I’m in a hurry—one that seems to fill up the hungriest of my family—is a soup Sarah invented years ago on the spur of the moment. This was a great summer treat for us and definitely pleasing to my boys! Cornbread or muffins are a great addition to this satisfying meal.
2 links turkey sausage, sliced thin (We usually buy organic Italian sausages that are about the size of hot dogs and keep them in the freezer until needed. If you prefer smoked sausage or kielbasa, you’ll need about 7‒8 inches.)
1 onion, chopped
1 heaping teaspoon minced garlic or garlic paste
1–2 tablespoons olive oil
1 29-ounce can diced tomatoes
1 full can or a little more of water (Less water will yield a stronger tomato flavor.)
2–3 zucchini, thinly sliced
1 15-ounce can navy beans, drained and rinsed (We have also used other beans, such as pinto.)
1–2 teaspoons salt, to taste
1 heaping tablespoon dried Italian seasoning Grated Parmesan cheese and sour cream to garnish
Sauté sausage, onions, and garlic in olive oil in a large soup pan until onions are soft and sausage is slightly browned. Add the tomatoes, water, and zucchini and simmer 20–30 minutes until zucchini is soft. Add beans, salt, and Italian seasoning. Simmer at least 15 minutes more. (I think it tastes better if you just leave it on to simmer while you are doing other things—the flavors blend together better.) When ready to serve, spoon soup into dishes. Sprinkle each serving with grated Parmesan cheese, add a small dollop of sour cream, and enjoy.
Serves 6–8, depending on size of serving.
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