After worship this morning, we are sitting down to a meal. A family meal. There are plenty of wonderful smells emanating from the kitchen, and the tastes that follow are just as pleasing (I’ll pass on the brussel sprouts, though). When you stop to think about all that is happening at a church potluck, however, it’s quite astounding:
- People are talking, catching up with one another
- People are eating, nourishing their bodies
- People are preparing food in the kitchen, a sort of microcosm of specialized activity
- Most of the time, people are quite enjoying themselves – the fellowship and the food are simply enjoyable
In fact, a meal around a table with family and friends is so charged with potential, that God gives special significance to such occasions. First, we discover that the Passover and the Lord’s Supper were celebrated around a meal (Ex. 12; Matt. 26). Why? I’m not sure we’ll ever know just exactly why, but perhaps because attentiveness is peculiarly high during a meal, and God, in his wisdom, sought to use that time, as well as a number of the elements of the meal itself, to stimulate our thoughts, our hearts, and our sense of unity to remembrance and thanksgiving. Indeed, this is one of the most explicit displays of family.
Secondly, we also find that association during meals comes to a heightened awareness, and can the Biblical examples can teach us. Peter, in Galatians 2:11-14, was rebuked by Paul for sitting down to eat with only the Jews, and not the Gentiles. In 1 Cor. 5:11, Paul instructs that Christians are not to share meals with brethren who practice explicitly worldly behaviour. However, we also find that Jesus was criticized by the Pharisees for eating with “sinners” (Mark 2:16).
So, as we sit down to eat today, consider what God has accomplished in the family meal.