At Momma’s Table
Romans 12:10 – “Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor.” NAS
One of life’s mysteries was Momma’s love of cooking. With six children and numerous houseguests who stayed far longer than any houseguest today would dare, cooking for the masses should have been a chore. But not for Momma. She loved perusing the grocery aisles where all the clerks were her peeps. She looked forward to trying new recipes, usually to the chagrin of her children. And, she could stretch a food budget so thin you could see through it. But, every evening, five minutes before her hot bread hit the table, she happily rang the dinner bell and the masses ran to wash up for dinner.
As we passed around each dish, little did we realize that Momma was nourishing, not only our bodies, but our souls. Looking back has brought the realization that much of what my siblings and I learned from our crazy family life, came while sitting around Momma’s dinner table.
So, as we celebrate Mother’s Day, I reflect on the gifts from Momma’s table.
Momma’s table showed us. . .
genuine gratefulness: Never was a meal eaten without prayer, thanking the Father for, not only the food, but for all the gifts of the day and for each person God brought into our lives that day. No one ever left Momma’s table without their name being brought before the Father.
the real purpose of keeping elbows in: At the Cato table, everyone ate properly with elbows in. Now, Momma was not a stickler for etiquette, but, you see, there was never room to spread your elbows out. Momma wanted all included. So, she replaced our kitchen chairs with picnic-table benches. Even though our family fit tightly around the table, Momma knew that in the case of guests, (and there were many) one more could always squeeze onto a picnic bench. So, eating with elbows in represented the gift of a large, loving community.
friendships trump formality: Although a pristine home and properly set table was preferred by Momma, she never let the lack of these keep her from opening her home for a meal. If laundry was visible, she would comment on how blessed she was with so much family that she couldn’t keep up with the wash. Her motto was: My house is clean enough to be healthy and dirty enough to be happy!
hospitality trumps entertainment: Entertainment is meant for impressing others, but hospitality is meant for serving others. And, serving is what Momma did best.
God’s view of humanity: Momma’s table was the great equalizer: free of all social boundaries. She entertained rich and poor, famous and infamous, social elite and social outcasts, new acquaintances and old friends, and each she honored as a child of God.
the power of conversation: Far from the distraction of the television and prior to the curse of social media, Momma’s table offered positive conversation and abundant laughter. When no dessert was available, no one missed it because laughter was abundant over a final hot cup of coffee.
unconditional love: Every dish was prepared with love and each guest left feeling honored and valued, regardless of who they were or what their relationship with Momma had been.
Yes, table-ministry was Momma’s calling and her example came from Jesus, the greatest table-minister. Jesus elevated the importance of sharing meals together, demonstrating its power of reaching out to others, building relationships, and showing unconditional love to many who had never received it prior to meeting the Savior. And through this ministry, Jesus, like Momma, filled many a hungry soul, transforming them into lifelong Kingdom seekers.
Father God, may we always hunger and thirst for you. May we seek those who need to be filled with your presence.