For this month’s newsletter, I’d like to talk about something very dear to me: food.
I’ve been known to say, “Food makes everything better.” Any chance I have to include food or drink in a meeting, I take. For example, while meeting with couples preparing for marriage, I’ve found that it’s a lot harder for a couple to argue about something while eating next to one another than sitting on a couch in my office. Perhaps this is why many of my clothes have not always fit too well on me!
Just this past week, we had our first all-ages dinner on a Wednesday night. Reflecting on that great evening together, I’d like to offer you a theology of food.
Food is actually a big deal in the Bible if you think about it. The first sin in Genesis 3 has to do with eating. Meanwhile, Jesus describes the Kingdom of God as a giant wedding feast in Matthew 22. Similarly in Luke 15, Jesus talks about the two lost sons and the return of the prodigal as a metaphor for God’s grace. This story also ends with a feast, symbolizing the celebration God intends to have when all the prodigals have come home. Thus the beginning and the end of time are described with food imagery.
Further, one of the most significant events in the Israelite’s year was the celebration of the Passover meal, where God’s deliverance is remembered in through this ceremonial feast. Israelites also were set apart from other nations in their observation of strict food laws.
In the New Testament, Jesus, too, began and ended his ministry with food. His first miracle was at a wedding feast in Cana where he turned water into wine. At the end of his ministry, he celebrated the Last Supper on the night of his betrayal with his disciples. Also, one of the few recorded accounts of Jesus resurrection describes his appearance to men while breaking bread with them in Luke 24.
Even during Jesus’ ministry, food was a big deal. He fed the 5,000 and then the 4,000. He described himself as the bread of life in John 6. He broke social conventions by dining with the “sinners” of his day like Zacchaeus in Luke 19. In fact, he was accused of being a drunkard and a glutton because of how much time he spent eating and drinking with people!
All this is to say that God uses our time spent breaking bread together. Leading up to our first all-ages dinner, I received questions like “What are we going to do during this meal?” The implication often being, “Is it worth my time for me to come?”
In our harried, busy world, slowing down to share a meal with others is a lost art. You might even call it a sacrament. So often we eat on the go, while still working, or on the way to the next thing. Making it a priority to eat a meal with family, to share a table with a new friend or stranger, or to catch up with an old friend while eating is a gift we can give one another this fall. It’s a tangle way we can be a witness to the world around us.
Whether it’s on a Wednesday night or at our upcoming harvest home dinner in November, I’d love to sit with you and break bread together. Like those on the Emmaus Road, let’s experience the risen Lord in our midst while we break bread together.
Austin D. Hill