by Erinn Oxford
Pastor, The Dale Ministries
It’s Monday morning at The Dale. A few people are busy setting up tables, two pushed together, surrounded by eight chairs, with a place setting at each. By 1 pm the room will be filled with people, eagerly anticipating a carefully crafted meal: a salad of spinach, carrots, beets, onions, and apple tossed in a homemade vinaigrette, potatoes, fresh fruit salad, and large hand-fashioned meatballs. Platters of food are put on each table so that everyone can simultaneously help themselves and ensure that each person gets a full plate. For many people, this is their one guaranteed meal for the day.
Throughout Scripture, we see that the table is central. People gather around the table of Passover, of Communion, and at each other’s homes. When describing his impending death, Jesus offered a meal in order for his friends to understand and remember. The pattern of Jesus was to bless, break and give food. With all of this in mind, The Dale intentionally invites all people to the table. We come whatever our circumstances, to discover that we all long to be loved and have relationship. Sitting beside one another and being asked to pass the potatoes can be one of the first steps toward a new connectedness.
After countless Mondays together, we are learning that to sit at a table is to occupy sacred space. We pray at the table. We laugh and cry together. We argue and then learn to forgive one other. We share the stories of our lives together, recalling where we have been and dreaming of where we might go. Sharing tables is uniquely human, and it is where we learn that food satisfies both a physical and spiritual hunger. We need both.
To find out more about The Dale Ministries in Toronto, ON, or to give, go to thedale.org.