We’ve been thinking about how to practice the Rhythms of Grace in a time of Lockdown. Our final rhythm requires a bit of creativity in the current restrictions. It is Eat Together.
“The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.’ But wisdom is proved right by her deeds.” Luke 7:34
So much of Jesus’ discipleship seemed to happen around meals and he regularly got in trouble because of the people he ate with. The central celebration of Christian worship, one of only a few sacraments practiced by almost all Christians, grew out of the stories of the last supper.
We love to make space for one another as we eat together. Around a table strangers can become friends and people can find themselves opening up to each other. We practice hospitality to each other and those around us. We look out for those who might feel on the edge or excluded and invite them to eat with us.
This has perhaps been the hardest rhythm to practice during lockdown. There is a certain physical proximity to eating together that just doesn’t work when you are trying to socially distance. However its important to remember, even now, that food isn’t just about nourishing our bodies. There is something about it that feeds our whole being, and that is important to share.
Large shared meals are something that we can’t do right now, I can’t wait for them to come back! Some of us might not even feel comfortable meeting with one or two others for food yet. But there are ways we can eat together, you might just have to think a bit creatively.
What are mealtimes like in your household? Can you find a time to all get round the table and eat together? Is there a way you could mark Jesus’ presence at these moments? This could be a grace or thanksgiving at the start of the meal, or if a bottle of wine is being opened it could be a toast – “to the King, until he comes!” If your Kairos Community is sharing a meal of some kind – either in person or over Zoom – why not finish sharing bread and wine, reading 1 Cor 11: 23 – 26 and remembering Jesus.
Food is a big blessing. Even if you can’t eat with lots of other people are there ways you could practice generous blessing that involve making and sharing food? Do you have fruit your garden? Perhaps you could pick some and share it with others around you. Could you make a cake, some bread, some jame – or whatever it is you make, and use some of that to bless others?
Food justice is a massive area of mission and a place we could can learn how to share God’s love. Find out about the Harrogate Food Bank and Resurrected Bites and tell others about projects like these that help work for food that is fairly distributed. Research the provenance of your food and continue to support Fair Trade (it seems to in danger of spipping off some tables right now). Buy as locally as you can. At a time when we can’t eat together as much as we might like to we can still massively influence other people’s lives just by being thoughtful about what we put on the table.
Our attitude to food deserves some curiosity and thoughtfulness. If we are honest there have been points in lockdown where food has been shownt to be a bit of an idol for many people. Think about the panic buying and hoarding we heard about at the start of lockdown. Perhaps, like me you may reluctanlty admit that you have leant to heavily on the comfort from food or drink over the last few months. Sometimes we place too high a value on convenience for us as consumers and too low a value on where the food has come from, how it has been made and what the impact has been. Thinking and praying about how we eat together means thinking about what we eat and where it comes from.
I’m not completely sure how this fits, but as I am thinking about the way we eat together, I’ve also found myself being challenged about fasting. There is something about the discipline of saying no to ourselves in certain ways that might open up new ways of praying and better ways of eating together.
Jesus encourages us to pray “Give us today our daily bread”. How can your mealtimes and the food you eat at them better reflect the Kingdom of God? How might you, your household and your Karos Community join in God’s mission and you Eat Together?