Checked my diary for today and its amazing how much food is involved !
I`m supposed to be attending Newton Chapel for breakfast, Trinity Chapel for messy Church (where there is always food involved), Crich Chapel for lunch and then this evening I will be at a concert in Mansfield and I`m prepared to bet there will be food,
if only biscuits !!
It seems almost gluttonous but food is also a regular feature in Scripture. Throughout the Bible there are numerous references to parties, meals, food. Jesus told Zachaeus that he was coming to his house for a meal; he healed Simons mother-in-law and she cooked food for them; visiting the sisters Martha and Mary, the former rushed around getting things ready for a meal and of course the most famous meal of all, The Last Supper, when Jesus gathered his followers on the night before he died. As a result of the Last Supper the Church has commemorated this meal regularly in worship giving it various names such as Mass, Sacrament, The Lord`s Supper,
Eucharist and so on.
The trouble is I sometimes think that what we do when we re-enact the Last Supper is not what Jesus intended. Its become an extremely ritualistic meal with all sorts of sub-meanings to various actions, ways of receiving the bread and the wine (even in my few Chapels its amazing how many different ways they can be received and each Chapel thinks that their way is the right one), whether we need an altar rail or not etc. And yet I think that all Jesus meant was for his disciples to continue to meet together regularly as a community, to share together, grow together and support each other and what better way to do this than over a meal ?
In many FreshExpressions of Church the role of food is important. I`ve already mentioned Messy Church where anything from nibbles to a full-blown meal can be provided; the Church in Liverpool which is centred around making bread; community Churches in homes nearly always involve food. Away from Fresh Expressions we could point to the Alpha course which is largely succesful, not because of its good quality teaching, but because of the sense of community which is created over the meal before the evening begins. Food is central to much of what we do.
So what is it about food ? I think food relaxes people into company; over food inhibitions drop and people are freer to share thoughts and ideas. Laughter occurs, fun `happens`. The meal is the catalyst to relationships. And so much of our lives revolve around mealtimes, dinner parties, occasions, cups of tea/coffee and so on. God has given us an opportunity to share with each other and create community; food is a part of that opportunity.
Yes, it does give some of us `size issues` but, hey……….. that’s the sacrifice I`m prepared to make for the sake of the Gospel