“They worshiped together at the Temple each day, met in homes for the Lord’s Supper, and shared their meals with great joy and generosity” (Acts 2:46, Holy Bible, New Living Translation).
In your sanctuary, you and the Holy Spirit are in charge of creating a peaceful nurturing environment.
Of course, this will look different in every home. Our family dinner is a happy experience (for the most part) because we protect each other in that space. We all try to focus on listening to each other’s events from the day, and making everyone feel safe by concentrating on encouragement and positive feedback.
I love it when we start with prayer, and end sometimes with a song of worship together.
Over the last few years, we’ve learned that there are some practical tools you can incorporate into meal times to keep the peace. For one thing, we avoid heavy, potentially confrontational topics during our family meals. Guard the sanctity of your table. Let it be a space of peace that everyone can count on as a place to gather, commune, and rest. At least 30 minutes of the day can be calm and nourishing for everyone at once if you protect that space. Creating a sanctuary at the dinner table for your family, friends, and strangers can open a door for the Holy Spirit to bring unexpected joy, life and healing.
Now… when we fail miserably—when someone ends up in tears because of a thoughtless word, when little ones wind up in their rooms for time out, when Mom and Dad use their outdoor voices because they don’t feel heard, there is still hope. The blood of Jesus and His ability to unify a family can redeem even the worst family dinner imaginable.
What do you do when things go south? When the pasta is growing cold and the tension is rising? Go low. Ask God for help. Reconvene. Think back, prayerfully, about what went wrong, and then, ask God to heal the space where words or looks given in anger caused pain or offense. Help one another through forgiveness and apologies without shaming the guilty or becoming too angry. You don’t have to wait for a new day to deal with the issue at hand. You can stop what you are doing, sweep your house free from tension, and enjoy the rest of your evening (or morning, or afternoon). Your home can be a sanctuary.