A Costco Dinner and the Last Supper

We had supper at Costco last night. Nowhere else can I feed my entire family, including dessert for $11.17. But the cheap meal isn’t the reason we ate at Costco last night. Our Costco meal came about because of my quest to protect our family dinner at all costs.

You see, on Monday nights, both girls have practice — on opposite ends of town. I have to take one girl to my husband at work, so he can take her to practice then take the other girl to practice myself. There’s no chance of us making it home for a nice family meal. What we do have time for, is a trip to Costco.

I’ve discovered that protecting that precious time at dinner is hard. Our schedules this spring make sitting down for a meal together really difficult. But I also find the effort is worth it.

I think Jesus knew the value of sitting down for a meal and fostering conversation. Think about it. Why did He tell Zaccheaus to come out of the tree? So He could go to His house for a meal. When 5,000 people were sitting in front of Him to hear His teaching, what did He do? He fed them. And on the last night of His life when He had important things to tell His disciples, what did He do? He sat down to a Passover meal with them.

Jesus used the time during the meal to let His disciples know what was coming. Matthew 26:26-29 says “While they were eating, Jesus took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying, ‘Take and eat; this is my body.’ Then he took a cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, saying, ‘Drink from it, all of you. This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. I tell you, I will not drink from this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.'”

We hear these words often in church when we take communion, but imagine if you had been hearing them for the first time. I’m sure the disciples were confused, wondering just what Jesus was talking about. They knew He was the Messiah, but they thought He was going to save them from their current circumstances of living under the oppression of the Roman Empire. But God had bigger plans in mind.

Just as Jesus used their dinner as a symbol of what was to come, we can use dinner to help our kids understand what that last meal meant. This week, consider having a traditional Seder supper, which is what the disciples and Jesus ate. Each piece of the meal has a symbolic meaning that reminds us of God’s great plan for redemption.

Here’s some simple directions for what to serve and what each food means.

Unleavened bread — This was a reminder to the Jews that God had brought them out of Egypt. They didn’t have time for the bread to rise when they were leaving, so this is what they carried. It’s also a reminder to us that Jesus sacrificed His body on the cross.

Lamb — The Passover lamb was killed and the blood spread across the doorposts so the angel of death would pass over those homes during the last plague in Egypt. Jesus is the sacrificial lamb for our sins.

Horseradish — This bitter herb reminded the Jews of the bitterness they felt when they were enslaved in Egypt. Use it to remind your kids of the bitterness of sin.

Haroset — Haroset is crushed apples, nuts and honey blended together. It represents hope. Jesus brought hope into the world.

Salt water and parsley — Dip the parsley into the salt water as a reminder of the tears the Israelites shed in Egypt. The salt water also reminds us of the sorrow of Jesus’ death, but parsley is the symbol of new life represented by Jesus’ resurrection.

Grape juice — Grape juice is the symbol of Jesus’ blood, which washes away our sins.

Find a night this week to introduce your kids to the symbolism in the Passover meal. It will make the meal Jesus shared with His disciples more real to them, and it will generate lots of conversation about Easter. This isn’t a hard meal to put together, and it will be an experience your kids will remember.

If you want to know more about Passover, check out Hebrew4Christians and this great post at Chrysalis.

Linking up today with Time-Warp Wife, Growing Home, and A Pause on the Path.

Dinner Discussions (and a Freebie!)

Dinnertime in our house can be a rushed affair. We often head out the door for one of the girls’ practices right after the meal or we eat late because we went to practice before dinner. Some nights we eat in shifts. On rare occasions, we declare a movie night and eat in front of the TV.

On any night, it’s easy to rush through dinner and not get into much discussion. Some nights I’m tired. Some nights the girls are in a bad mood. Some nights all my husband wants to do is read the paper while we eat. But I’ve found when we make a concerted effort to sit down to a meal together and create conversation, we enjoy each others’ company and we often leave the table knowing something we didn’t know before.

In our house, sometimes the standard “What did you do today?” question doesn’t elicit much in the way of information. “Went to school” or “the same thing we normally do” are the standard answers from my girls. Unless something really exciting happened during the day, that question doesn’t offer much in the way of return. However, when we get creative with our questions — “What was the best thing that happened to you today?” “Did you help anyone today?” “What made you happy today?” — we start to get results.

Our kids need us to be involved in their lives. They need to know that we care about them. Even when they don’t act like they want to talk with us, they really do want us to know what’s going on. Sometimes attacking the conversation from a different direction yields better results. Sometimes a fun conversation can turn serious, giving us great insight into how our kids think. Sometimes a little laughter is all that is needed to get your kids to begin to open up. Different tactics can often give us better results. Colossians 4:6 says “Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.”

What does it mean to have graceful conversation, seasoned with salt? And how does that affect how we relate to our kids? It means our words should offer grace, not judgment. We should be wise and offer love and understanding when we speak. Yet, we should speak the truth, even when it’s difficult. The salt is the tough things that we need to talk about — confronting others when needed and offering correction. When we have this type of conversation with our kids, we are helping them to know that we love them, and we are helping them to grow to be more like Jesus.

Creating avenues to have important conversations with your kids isn’t always easy, so today I’m starting a new feature on the blog called “Dinner Discussions.” Each month, I’ll post enough discussion questions for your family to use one each night during the month. Some months they will be themed around a topic. Other months, they’ll simply be random questions. Some questions will be funny, some serious and some completely random. The goal is to get your family talking. You may be surprised at the path some of your conversations take.

So, let’s get started. Click this link and print out your Dinner Discussion cards. Cut them apart, stick them in a jar, a bowl or even a hat and leave them on your kitchen table. Each night, pull out a new card and start your dinner discussion. Check back on the first of every month for a new set of cards.

I’d love to hear how your dinner discussions are going, so be sure to pop back in and let me know about where your conversations are taking your family. I’ll be checking in with you during the month via our Facebook page, offering some insights from our own dinner discussions.

Happy discussing!

Linking up today with Raising Mighty Arrows.