Setting the Table: A Sacred Act of Love and Connection

I am working on the teaching my children to value of a beautifully set table. In a day when efficiency is valued over being slow and still, a nicely set table is becoming a thing we reserve for special occasions. I consider sitting down to a beautifully set table an important value to instill in their lives.

The reasons for setting a beautiful table are many, but for me, it narrows to about seven different reasons.

1. Slowing Down in Our Busy Lives: In our modern, fast-paced lives, moments of stillness are rare. Sitting at a well-set table provides a deliberate pause—a chance to step away from the chaos and focus on nourishing both our bodies and our souls. It’s a reminder that life isn’t just about rushing from one task to another; it’s about savoring the simple pleasures.

2. Encouraging Lingering and Fellowship: A beautiful table is an invitation to connect with others, share stories, and truly be present. When we sit down with loved ones, the table becomes a space for laughter, heartfelt conversations, and the weaving of memories. Instead of rushing through a meal, we engage in conversation, share stories, and connect with those at the table with us.

3. Thoughtful Eating and Tasting: A nicely set table encourages us to slow down, chew thoughtfully, and appreciate the symphony of flavors in each dish. It’s a practice that nourishes not only our bodies but also our minds. We would probably eat less food, with more appreciation than grabbing something to chew on as we go, or eat while watching TV, not really tasting what is in our mouth or noticing when we have had enough.

4. Feeling Loved and Appreciated: When someone takes the time to set a table for us, it’s an act of care. It says, “You matter. Your presence matters.” Whether it’s a family member, friend, or host, this gesture creates a warm and welcoming environment.

5. Practicing Good Manners: Teaching children good table manners is a valuable life lesson. It’s about respect—for others, for the food, and for the shared experience. Simple acts like not talking with a full mouth or waiting your turn to speak demonstrate consideration for those around us. And those values can be best taught and practiced around a nicely set table, rather than in the car or flopped in front of the TV.

6. Preparation is a Sacred Time: As I chop vegetables or stir a pot, I am able to thank the Lord for His gracious provision for our family. Each step becomes an opportunity for prayer and gratitude.

  • Praying for Fellowship: Preparing a meal for someone goes beyond the physical act of cooking. As I cook, I often find myself praying for the upcoming fellowship around our table.
  • Blessing Each Spot: I like to pray for each person as I set the table. Even if it is just my own children, I can pray for their hearts and minds as I set their plate down.

7. A prepared table is a picture of eternity. We get so little of heaven here on earth, but sitting around a table once a day with those we love is one of those moments. Throughout Scripture, there are promises of a grand feast—a celebration of God’s redemption and restoration. Isaiah 25:6 beautifully describes this future banquet: “On this mountain the LORD Almighty will prepare a feast of rich food for all peoples, a banquet of aged wine—the best of meats and the finest of wines.” This eschatological feast represents the ultimate fulfillment of God’s plan. It’s a celebration of victory over death, the removal of sorrow, and the wiping away of tears (Isaiah 25:8; Revelation 19:6-9).

God’s preparation extends beyond physical tables and banquets. He prepares a place for us in eternity. Jesus assured His disciples in John 14:2-3: “In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.”

God’s preparation encompasses both earthly and heavenly dimensions. As we anticipate the future feast in His kingdom, let us also emulate His love by preparing for others in our daily lives.