Proper Tea Party Etiquette
Traditionally, a tea party always follows a particular protocol. There is an order by which the foods are served and eaten. Usually scones or muffins are first, followed by sandwiches and then sweets.
The food is never to be consumed in a gluttonous manner; one is to dine by taking small bites and chewing thoroughly. Even if the sandwich or other treat is small enough, never stuff the whole thing into your mouth at one time.
Never stuff anything into anything for that matter.
One is to never dine with gloves on. It's just not done. Anyway, if the gloves are too thick you could get a finger stuck in the handle of the teacup and create an embarrassing social moment.
When seated at a table never raise the cup and saucer at the same time, only raise the teacup. If you are not seated at a table, then the saucer is placed on the lap with your left hand and the teacup is raised to the mouth with your right hand, and the cup is returned to the saucer each time between sips. Never keep the teacup suspended without a purpose.
No dipping of scones in the jam or cream. Absolutely never! Scones are to be broken off in small pieces and then the jam or cream is to be added onto the plate and joined with scone there. No exceptions. Scones are never to be eaten with a fork. Don’t ask why.
Never slurp your tea. It makes too much noise, and could disturb conversations.
Keep all utensils on the plate, never soil a tablecloth by thoughtlessly placing a jam laden knife where it would not be welcomed. There are other, more constructive ways to leave your mark at social events.
Leave your napkin unfolded on your lap. If you must leave the table, the napkin must be left on the seat, never the table, it simply looks sloppy, - unless you are gifted at origami, the art of folding paper into interesting cultured shapes and can convert your napkin into an entertaining image, like a rabbit or dormouse. Otherwise follow the rules.
Holding food or a cup with three fingers is a sign of culture especially with the little finger raised as tea is imbibed. It may look silly to some, but for those in the know, you are behaving like you are somebody.
As we have just been shown there is a proper pattern required when one is invited to a formal tea. God also provides a pattern for His people to follow when attending this event called life. He carefully laid out the rules and regulations of acceptable conduct in His Word.
Ezekiel 40-43 gives a detailed portrait of a temple that is painstakingly measured from one end to the other. In this illustration we are being shown a parallel to God’s Word. It is perfect, but in verse, 8 we are told that the people have placed their posts by His posts and their thresholds by His thresholds.
In their setting of their threshold by My thresholds, and their post by My posts, and the wall between Me and them, they have even defiled My holy name by their abominations that they have committed...Ezekiel 43:8.
Apparently He is showing us that there are some who prefer their own versions of God’s rules of proper etiquette. When that occurs, disorganization follows and things can get down right rude. We suddenly descend from an elegant structured setting, and tumble into the rabbit hole of our own imaginations, to find ourselves dining with mad theologians and pastors, the epitome of the liberal interpreters of the Word of God; the modern counterparts of those counterfeit carpenters in Ezekiel's profound vision.
Things can get messy as God’s opinion of them attests. We see that the plates are no longer clean and inviting but have been soiled by vomit because those who are leading God's people have rejected the pure bread of God’s thinking and replaced it with their own versions of how God’s word is to be served to his people. ... the priest and the prophet have erred through strong drink, they are swallowed up of wine, they are out of the way through strong drink; they err in vision, they stumble in judgment. For all tables are full of vomit and filthiness, so that there is no place clean - Isaiah 26:7,8.
And like the mad hatter, who made time mad, judgment fell, so it was always tea time in his world and everyone kept going in circles because when man’s versions, or doorposts, are preferred above God’s words, God promises that He will remove wisdom and without wisdom one can never understand the proper meaning of the word as God intended it to be; pure, simple and free of man inspired additives.
Wherefore the Lord said, Forasmuch as this people draw near to Me with their mouth; and their lips do honor Me, but have removed their heart far from Me, and their fear toward Me is taught by the precept of men: Therefore, behold, I will proceed to do a marvelous work among this people, even a marvelous work and a wonder: for the wisdom of their wise men shall perish, and the understanding of their prudent men shall be hid -Isaiah 29:13, 14.
So round and round in circles we will go. The plates never get washed as Alice astutely recognized,and no one can even remember that there was such a thing as proper tea party etiquette.
So it is important that when you are about to dine on God’s word, remember the etiquette; keep His book open upon the table at all times and never cease to lose your appetite for truth and sound doctrine. It’s easy to digest, extremely nourishing and I promise you, you’ll enjoy this time of refreshment with the God who delights in serving you only His best. Enjoy.
Copyright 2010 by H.D. Shively