Every fortnight people from a farming background, or who have a heart for the countryside, offer a personal reflection on faith and rural life. They hope that you will be encouraged by it.
It’s the hub of almost every farmhouse. It’s the place where the family gathers.
It’s the place where visitors are welcomed. It’s the boardroom table, the study desk, the complaints bureau and the counselling suite.
The kitchen table is full of memories that could tell some stories. Everyone is welcome at the kitchen table.
We make our plans here and dream our dreams here, a place where many a hundred pounds are spent too. We discuss the issues of the day here, and I’m sure we have all discussed Brexit around the kitchen table.
It seems to me at least, that our farmhouse kitchen-table-gatherings, passed down from generation to generation, are something that others could helpfully learn from. Where issues are discussed, opinions aired and decisions arrived at, in an attitude of family warmth and friendship.
How very different to the vexed issue of Brexit, where sound bites often trump substance and well-worn arguments become shouting matches on radio and TV shows. So much better the warmer, friendlier tones of diplomacy around the kitchen table.
And this particular topic really matters to farmers. Its outcome will have widespread consequences for future farming generations. Just a month ago Farming Life had as its headline, ‘Fall in incomes a wake-up call: UFU.’ With farm incomes plunging by some 24% last year, for many Brexit’s outcome will help to determine our bread and butter, and whether we can also afford a little jam on it, as we sit around the kitchen table!
Living in days where the Brexit backdrop is almost impossible to ignore, I am especially thankful that God’s word, the Bible, brings us a special comfort for these uncertain times.
In fact, Jesus brings to us, what we might almost say, is the warm and homely picture of the farmhouse kitchen table – and it came against a backdrop that was far more uncertain than anything our future may hold. In John’s Gospel we see Jesus talking to His closest followers about His approaching death. But in the midst of His looming crucifixion, Jesus paints a picture of warmth, security and eternal hope.
Talking to His in-a-muddle disciples, Jesus says, this is what My Father and I will do for those who ‘love’ Me: “we will come to them and make our home with them” (John 14:23).
Jesus and His Father, through the Holy Spirit, come to make their ‘home’ with those who love Jesus. Here is a picture of family warmth. Here is also a picture of family security. For the word that Jesus uses for ‘home’ means an abiding, lasting dwelling, not a temporary stop-over. Our lives become the kitchen table where Jesus fellowships with us, as He speaks to us through His word and where we speak to our Father through Him in prayer.
I suspect that you chat about many things around your kitchen table, only with ‘Brexit-on-toast,’ or ‘Brexit-with-spuds’ often on the menu! However, if you will trust, not in yourself, but in Jesus who has died for your forgiveness and has risen again to bring you forever life, then He and His Father will call your heart ‘home’.
Life will still have its uncertainties, its ups and downs, but you will enjoy heart warmth and eternal security as a beloved member of Jesus’ precious family. Blessings that not even your farmhouse kitchen table can bring.
Rev. Kenny Hanna is minister of Second Dromara Presbyterian Church and grew up on his family’s farm in the foothills of the Mountains of Mourne.
If you would like to talk to someone about this article, please email Rev. Kenny Hanna at firstname.lastname@example.org or call him on 028 9753 1234.