The dinner table is about love and belonging. I use to see fast food restaurants as a threat to our families and culture but now I realize that they are actually the creation of our culture. Our rugged individualism, independence, demand for instant gratification, and minimum relational attachments find its expression in the drive-thru window. Unlike our predecessors we can now afford to circumvent the dinner table by grabbing a Quarter Pounder and a Happy Meal all in the name of convenience.
But building relationships has never been convenient. A meal begins with the self-denial to set aside the time required to have dinner together as a family. As parents there is not only the surrender of our own wants (and laziness) in order to make dinner with our family possible but also the struggle to teach the value of the meal to our children as they are pulled by the internet, homework, television, video games, music lessons, friends, sporting events, and school events. We make room for whom and what we value and because relationships and family are no longer important to us the dinner table is disappearing from our culture.
The love of the dinner table is activated by the sacrifice of purchasing or growing the food, preparing the food, setting the table, and the clean up afterwards. It is hard work but meals provide for us the opportunity to lay our lives down for one another that results in having the meaningful relationships for which we long and for which we were made.