About ten years ago on Easter, my sister, Sara, announced that she would bring a very special friend to lunch. Sara is eleven years younger than me, and she was a premature baby. This produced an over-protective older sister. It would be my first time to meet the boyfriend--Nathan. That Easter we would host not only my side of the family but also my husband’s parents. To set the stage, when my mother-in-law, Signa Bodishbaugh, and I concoct a plan, we can go overboard. We decided we would quiz the new boyfriend in a subtle way to find out as much as possible about him. We came up with about 25 questions. We wrote them down on slips of paper, folded them, and placed them in a small silver bowl at Nathan’s place at the table. While at lunch, we asked him to draw out each slip of paper, read it aloud, and answer the question. There were simple, easy questions, and there were more probing questions. For example: What is your favorite book? Nathan responded, “Well, in this group I know the answer needs to be the Bible, and it is, but I’ll throw out a few more books I like as well.” And he did. The most probing question: How do you intend to take care of Sara? When he drew this question, he read it silently, then he looked up at everyone gathered around the table and asked, “So when do I get to ask you all questions?” We all laughed, of course, and someone answered, “When you are a part of the family.” Nathan is now my brother-in-law, and he gets to ask whatever he wants. A tradition was born. Each time we gather in a large group around the table, we include the Silver Bowl of Questions. The Silver Bowl we used for that first Easter was part of a dining set I won years before when I was a contestant on The Price is Right. And yes, I did kiss Bob Barker – on the cheek. Several years later, one of my good friends heard about our family tradition, and she bought me a beautiful silver bowl for my birthday. It became The Silver Bowl. And just last year on my birthday, my mother-in-law bought me a silver bowl with the inscription, “Family is belonging to and believing in each other.” This special gift has become the official Silver Bowl of Questions we use for social gatherings. I tell you this story to encourage each of you to be intentional. We can sit around the dinner table and chit-chat about nothing specific. We might occasionally have an insightful conversation. We can have years of meals together and not even know each other’s thoughts, disappointments, or aspirations. With a plan, we can encourage deep conversation and sharing. Each year when the calendar rolls around to October 1st and I realize how close we are to the Holiday gauntlet, my heart sinks. My brain goes into overdrive: shopping, planning meals, travel, coordinating family dinners with in-laws and out-laws and almost grown children. In my mind, I am exhausted, and it’s only the first of October. No matter the time of year you are reading this, I would like us all to take a deep breath and STOP. Stop and be still. Completely still. And pray. “Father, how can I be intentional when I am surrounded by friends and family? Please speak to my heart so I will know what to do.” What did He say? It will be different for each one in each circumstance. Singer and songwriter Kelly Parks says, “The crazy busyness of our world will never go away. It’s what’s in our heart that counts. Let the Holy Spirit gently quiet us in the craziness.” When Jesus gathered the 12 disciples around Him, He was intentional. He told them parables, He poured His Father’s wisdom into them constantly, and He was an earthly example of no sin. Because we are discussing meals with family and friends, let’s consider the Last Supper. There were many profound moments. I will touch on just a few. Jesus was intentional at The Last Supper: Jesus told Peter and John to go into the town, and they would see a man with a pitcher of water. They were to follow him home and then ask the master of the house, “Where is the guest room where the Teacher can eat Passover with His disciples?” They found the man, the house, and the upper room. “When the hour had come, He sat down, and the twelve apostles with Him. Then He said to them, “With fervent desire I have desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer; for I say to you, I will no longer eat of it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God” (Luke 22:14-16, NIV). Jesus was intentional at the last supper. He told two to go and make the preparation, and they did. Then, He told the twelve it was His fervent desire to share His last meal with them, and He did. The Argument or Disagreement: And then, like in most families, a disagreement erupted. I haven’t been in a situation with a huge family fight at a dinner celebration, but I have heard about them from friends: bad language, items flying, and family members who stormed out of the house. As far as I know, the disciples didn’t throw things. They did wonder who among them would be considered the greatest. And Jesus answered: “For who is greater, he who sits at the table, or he who serves? Is it not he who sits at the table? Yet I am among you as the One who serves” (Luke 22:27, NIV). Jesus gave His disciples a physical example of servanthood; He had washed their feet before the meal. Then He gave them a verbal reminder, “But I am among you as the One who serves” (Luke 22:27 NIV). And we as the wives, mothers, grandmothers, aunts, cousins, caretakers, and friends are given a great privilege if we choose to be the one who serves here on this earth. The Conversation with His Father: When the meal was finished Jesus wanted to talk with His Father. He and the disciples walked to the Mount of Olives. Then, Jesus ventured a bit further, wanting to pray alone. “And He was withdrawn from them about a stone’s throw, and He knelt down and prayed, saying, ‘Father, if it is Your will, take this cup away from Me; nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done.’ Then an angel appeared to Him from heaven, strengthening Him. And being in agony, He prayed more earnestly. Then His sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground” (Luke 22:41-43, NIV). This is our reminder to be in constant conversation with our Father. Do you desire a relationship with Him? Do you have the comfort level to talk to Him about anything, at any time? Even the hard things you don’t understand? Have you ever asked for God to take away a difficult situation? I know I have, and in this instance so did His Son. Jesus asked His Father to take away His crucifixion if it was His Father’s will. And because the Father did not, our sins are forgiven. At the Last Supper, Jesus knew it would be His last here on this earth. We don’t have the supernatural power to know when we will have our last supper. But we can be purposeful in all the ones we have left. When my children were younger, they sometimes balked at the Silver Bowl of Questions. But now it has become a tradition they all seem to embrace. Especially in the instances when they invite new friends from church, school, or work. Last Easter, we were expecting 20 for lunch, and an hour before we sat down to eat, I got a call from my middle daughter. “Mom, I stopped to pick something up at my dorm, and there are four people who don’t have anyone to eat with today. May I bring them?” The answer was yes. We borrowed a few more chairs, came up with a few more questions, and had a fun and memorable meal. That time we put each question in a plastic Easter egg by each person’s place-card so we had the ability to ask specific questions of specific individuals. It was a hoot, especially when one of the college boys got the question, “Who was your first kiss?” His ears turned a bright crimson before the rest of his face followed suit. We can float through special events with no agenda and hope just to get through it. We can plan the meal, clean the house, buy the items needed at the grocery, wash the dog, make sure the bathroom is tidy, organize the extra items to be brought, clean the dishes, and be ready to have the whole thing finished. Or, we can sit, pray, ask the Father to show us who is in need of extra care, who needs a hug, and how we can make each person that enters our home feel loved. And if something is out of order or not quite ready, it will be okay. Most people naturally want to be seen and heard and acknowledged in some way. If you and I plan ahead, we have the ability to meet these needs. Simply ask questions and then listen. LISTEN. Be intentional and remember the examples from the Last Supper. Use them as reminders when you prepare for any celebration with friends and family.