Luke 14.1, 7-14
What kind of table manners were expected of you as a child? What table manners have you taught your children or grandchildren?
Did you know Jesus took time to talk about table manners? That’s what this passage is about. Not table manners like which fork to use or outlawing all talk of religion and politics. The table manners Jesus cares about are different. He wants people to sit down together and break bread. Especially if they are different from each other. That’s a core value for Jesus. Table manners.
How many of you had sit-down dinners with your family as a kid or Sunday dinners at grandma’s? That was a staple of life in the recent past, but how many of you still have nightly family dinners?
I’ve been reading a lot about parenting--trying to prepare for something you can’t be prepared for--and I came across a great study this week titled, “What is the most important thing you can do with your kids?” I thought the answer might be read to them, put their needs first, or play outside in God’s green earth like we’re doing today. But the answer was, “Eat dinner with them.” Table manners. Maybe Jesus was onto something.
Why is having a family dinner so important? It teaches children how to talk to people, and they learn more words from those conversations than they do reading. Ten times more words at the dinner table than from a book. And the more words they learn, the more quickly their brain develops. In fact, students who had regular family dinners together score much higher on standardized tests than students who don’t, and family dinners are a better predictor of school success than homework, grades, and participation in sports.
Not to mention the nutritional benefits. Regular family dinners lead to healthier eating habits, healthier people, and healthier families. So stop by Wendy’s for a 50 cent Frosty on your lunch break--boy, that’s a great deal I can’t pass up--but save dinner time for family.
Family dinners are also good soul food. That time together reduces stress, makes kids feel more supported, and even lowers the chances of depression or suicidal thoughts. Smoking, drinking, and acting out in other ways are also significantly diminished when families eat dinner together.
Why do table manners matter so much? Because that’s the most time we spend together each day, and it gives us the chance to be involved in each other’s lives.
This is a good time of year to start new traditions as school begins and cooler weather sets in. Consider having family dinners more often. As Jesus said, “You will be blessed.” Amen.