As we prepared our hearts for a meal with over 300 people from our immediate community after church, we were able to walk through Luke 5:27-32 on Sunday morning in the sermon entitled, “Meals are More than Food, just ask Jesus.” The main idea was that meals are not just symbols of God’s provision and his creativity in the diversity of food we can consume, but a meal is a place to put our faith into action. Meals are in themselves 1) a context for community, 2) a platform for mission, and 3) a place to express and receive grace. So following that outline we will take the next several posts to prepare our hearts for this meal-filled holiday season and more importantly begin to see Christianity not as something lived out only in the formal context of Sunday mornings but a faith that permeates all of life, especially our time together around food. May our meals make much of Jesus who “came eating and drinking” on his way to “giving his life as a ransom for many” (cf. Luke 7:34, Mark 10:45).
Here are some excerpts from Sunday’s sermon:
When you sit down to eat a meal? What is most important? Salad, main course, dessert, drinks? OR is it something else? Is it the presentation- the glassware, the plates, the house decorations, etc.? OR is there something more fundamental? Are the meals as much about the people and the relationships as it is about food?
“Our relationship to food is ambiguous. Television chefs have become celebrities, and cookbooks regularly appear on bestseller lists. Yet we cook less than ever before. Americans spend over $50 billion on dieting each year—$50 billion to solve the problem of food gone wrong. At any given moment 25 percent of American men and 45 percent of women are dieting. Only 9 percent of college-aged women have never tried to control their weight through dieting. American Christians spend more on dieting than on world missions. We spend more curing our overconsumption than we do feeding the physically and spiritually hungry of the world. (A Meal with Jesus, Tim Chester, p12)
Something is wrong with this picture.
We have made an idol out of food and forgotten its purpose- to enjoy and to share. The aim of life is to love God and love others. So we must look at Jesus’ life to understand the beauty of eating meals for those ends.
The Son of man came eating and drinking as a primary means for seeking and saving the lost. When we begin to look at the role of meals in the life of Jesus we will see how important meals were for community, mission, and extending grace. (Luke 5:27-32; 7:33-50; Luke 9:10-17; Luke 10:38-42; Luke 11:37-54; Luke 14:7-24; Luke 19:1-10; Luke 22:7-23; Luke 24:36-49 are a sampling of their prominence in the life of Jesus.
Meals are places of community
Many of the “one anothers” in the Bible can be done well around a meal.
Meals are places to honor one another (cf. Luke 14:7-11)
Birthdays, fixing someone’s favorite meal, making meal for a family with a newborn, are not only ways for providing for needs but also for honoring people in your life.
Meals are places to serve one another
Making a meal for someone is an expression of love. Those who make the meals in your home, do you see the meal you make as an opportunity to provide for your family, to bless others, and create a context for community? In preparing meals with the right heart, we are able to growing to be more like Jesus.
Meals are also place to train up your kids to be servants. As your kids get older train them at the dinner table. Train them to listen to others, to ask about others, to respect their authority by only getting down from the table when they ask to be excused, to be thankful by expressing thanks to the cook, to delight in order by setting the table, to serve others by getting drinks for them, etc. There are so many ways the dinner table serves as a training ground not for mere law but for shaping us into Christ’s likeness.
Meals are places to enjoy one another
When I asked my kids what do you think most characterizes our dinner time? Their answer was…laughter! Meals are a place to enjoy one another. We tell funny stories about Dana and I growing up; we talk about what gave them joy during their day; we have a question jar at our table with questions that can solicit funny answers (like, “If you could make up your own ice cream flavor what would it be and why?”). Make meals memorable by simple being all there (cell phones away) and seeing the holiness of enjoying fellowship with one another.
However we don’t just laugh. We enjoy one another by hearing each others hurts, by praying for each other and for missionaries or friends in the church. When there is tension, especially with siblings, we use the meal time for pursuing peace and reconciliation, confession, and forgiveness. We even do dinner and devotions sometimes bringing the Bible time, about 10 minutes or so, into our after food discussions.
We also love having people over for meals. Meals are not only great for deepening existing relationships but many times meals are the context for really forming new friendships.
All of these ideas are not done in one meal time. But creativity and intentionality will bring opportunities for community into every meal.
I pray that we seek to honor one another, serve one another, and enjoy one another as we form community at meal times.
More to come…
Meals are places of mission (part 2)
Meals are places of grace (part 3)