I read a great article by David Brooks recently titled: The Power of a Dinner Table. The article tells the story of Kathy Fletcher and David Simpson who have a son that invited one friend over for dinner that sometimes goes to school hungry, who had another friend that also went to school hungry, who had another friend, who had another friend, who had another friend. Now, on a Thursday evening, there might be 15-20 teenagers who come over for a meal, but also for something much more.
The teenagers who show up have endured the hardships of poverty: homelessness, hunger, abuse, sexual assault, and more. One 21-year old woman said that when she came over for dinner it was the first time she’d sat around a family table for a meal since she was 11 years old.
The article is about the way the family reaches out to teenagers and creates a non-profit in response to the relationships, but the article really isn’t just about the good that happens there around the table.
The article asks an important question about you and me. Where are the dinner table spaces in our lives today? Where are the places you turn off the news and noise and be in relationship? Where are places where you sit across from someone that might be different than you, but you take the time to listen to one another and respect one another?
A veteran youth activist was asked in the article about what kinds of programs change a kid’s life, and he responded with such incredible wisdom. He said: “I still haven’t seen one program change one kid’s life. What changes people is relationships. Somebody willing to walk through he shadow of the valley of adolescence with them.”
That statement is true for people of all ages: “what changes people is relationships.”
If you don’t have a dinner table space in your life, where people are gathering to share stories of God’s activity, their hopes, their fears, their joy, and the normal everyday things of life, would you consider creating one? Would you be the first one to reach out and share a meal with someone this week and invite them to a dinner table space where relationships matter?
If you don’t have a dinner table space to offer up, partner with someone else and create a dinner table space together. Make room for relationships and let’s see how God might work in our lives, our church, and our community.