With Easter Sunday just around the corner, it’s not only time to be getting the groceries home for our Easter menu, but also time to be reminding ourselves why we do this in the first place. Why do we go to all this trouble anyway? Because our feasting is celebrating before the Lord, and He is pleased when His people rejoice together.
God Himself is the ultimate host. He loves to spread a feast for His people. He prepares a feast for us, and He prepares us to come to His table. He welcomes us, fills and feeds us, sings over us, and all with joy. We are a people greatly blessed!
God likes noisy celebrations: “The voice of rejoicing and salvation is in the tents of the righteous” (Psalm 118:15). Imagine what it would be like to walk down a street Easter afternoon and hear loud parties every few houses. The voice of rejoicing and salvation!
So as we make preparations for this upcoming Easter Feast, we should think about how we can imitate our Heavenly Father. What kind of party does He like to attend? Does He like sitting at our tables? Is there peace and joy in our homes, or is there stress and conflict? Over the years, I have stumbled in many ways over the Sabbath preparation. I have fussed, either out loud or in my heart. I have confessed many sins regarding the weekly feast. But each time, God reassures me that I have another chance the following week to do better. I think this has been a significant factor in my sanctification! But take heart: being tired is not a sin. This kind of regular feasting requires a lot of labor, but it’s a huge blessing.
I’ve come up with many shortcuts and helpful tips on how to cook for and serve lots of people and lots of kids. But I’ve also learned a bunch about how to prepare myself and how to think about this meal of meals each week. Here’s my short list of reminders.
1. Be hospitable without grumbling…God loves a cheerful giver. God cares more about our attitudes than about the menu. Rather celery sticks and water with joy than lots of yummy food with fussing. But it’s not an either/or. We can have the good food with joy overflowing.
2. Remember the most important guest at your table is Jesus. Make sure you are preparing the kind of home He loves to be in. Be done with strife. Don’t fuss. No matter if your centerpiece wilts or the wine spills or someone is late. Cheerful hearts are more important. “Go, eat your bread with joy, and drink your wine with a merry heart” (Ecc. 9:7).
3. Love covers a multitude of sins. Let it go. Spread love over offenses, slights, and sins, whether real or imagined.
4. When we have many guests at the table, I sit next to my husband rather than down at the other end of the table. Then I don’t have to shout to be heard, and I don’t have to send him hand signals. We can consult on what should happen when, decide when to start clearing the table, smile together at the chaos, and it’s just more fun. Make it easy on yourself.
5. I heartily recommend praying ahead of time. Pray for the food, pray for the guests, and pray for your own peace and cheerfulness. Expect at least one curve ball and don’t let it throw you. (The oven won’t work, you forgot to buy butter, your guests are late, someone cries at the table….) Just recently we had a delightful lasagna meal with some friends, but it wasn’t so delightful for the hostess. Her oven went into lock-down, cleaning mode with the lasagna still in it! But it turned out delicious, and we had a wonderful time. Guests are always far less concerned with things than the hostess is.
Our weekly Sabbath dinners are practice sessions for the big feasts like Easter, and at our house we try to make it all about the kids, especially since there are fifteen at our table most every week. We never want the Sabbath dinner to be an obligation rather than a delight. I often spread candy on the kids’ table and light the candles. They have little wine glasses for the toasts. When we bought an eighteen-foot table years ago, we thought it would work for us forever, but we have outgrown it. So the kids sit at the table, and the adults carry their plates to the living room.
But we always have our Sabbath liturgy first. I’m going to print it here for you, not because I think you should do the same thing, but just to give you an idea of what you can do each week with your own children or grandchildren. When we started doing this, Doug was writing it for a handful of kids. Needless to say, it’s a much bigger deal now. He has a question for each child, and as they get older, he changes it to fit their age.
First he welcomes everyone to our table.
Then we raise our glasses for the Sabbath Toast:
This is the day that the Lord hath made.
We will rejoice and be glad in it!
Then he prays, which is followed by (and the children join in)
A Blessing for my Wife
May her house always have seven pillars and may she always mix her wine with wisdom.
A Blessing for the Children
Happy are the people whose God is the Lord. May our sons flourish like saplings, grown up in their youth, and may our daughters be as columns, sculpted in the palace style.
Catechism questions for all:
Do you love God? Yes!
Are you baptized? Yes!
Is Jesus in your heart? Yes!
Will you take the Lord’s Supper tomorrow? Yes!
Blaire, who made you? God
Marisol, who made Titus and Chloe? God
Titus, what day is it? The Lord’s Day
Chloe, why is it the Lord’s Day? Because Jesus rose
Daphne, what kind of day is it? A sweet day
Seamus, what did Jesus kill on this day? The dragon
Judah, what else did Jesus kill? The dragon in our hearts
Lina, why did God give us the sabbath? So we could rest
Ameera, why did God give us Jesus? So we could rest in our hearts
Lucy, who is true man and true God? Jesus
Hero, do we have to earn our salvation? No, it is a free gift
Rory, what is the word for that free gift? The word is grace
Bel, what day of the week is this? The first day, the foundation day
Jemma, what does this mean? Every day is built on a foundation of grace
Knox, why did God do all this for us? Jesus died and rose to wash all our sins away
Kids, what’s the point of the whole Bible? Kill the dragon, get the girl!