Saturday, August 20, 2005

common chow

Last week as I was preparing to go out and close the service at noon, I went through the kitchen and found our church “hostess” already working on vittels for the evening picnic at the lake following Baptism. What an unsung hero! I had to stop and tell her what an important role she plays in our community. Every week she and her team of community enablers put on a spread for hurried families who don’t have time to go home and eat before activities begin. So instead of inhaling something on the run, they are able to sit with other families and be still and talk and grow closer over a meal.

So I was thinking about God being all complete and wanting nothing, and I thought about him making people. Why on earth would he make people? Surely he couldn’t have been lonely? So when he’d made Adam, and walked with him in the garden, he noticed that Adam was lonely, so he took care of that for Adam.
Then when Adam messed up and ruined his relationship with God, God set about telling a story that stretched over millennia, and included his coming to earth to live with us.
Then I was thinking about how he acted and what he did while he was here. First of all, on the night he arrived, a lot of people came out to see him. We don’t have much information from that point for a while, but the next time we see him, at only 12 years old, he is hanging around a lot of people in the temple. Next time we see him he’s at a wedding reception with so many people they’d drank all the wine. Next thing ya know, he’s out gathering up hand-picked friends to take with him just about everywhere he goes. From then on, we constantly encounter him around lots of people, and a common thing in these gatherings seems to be food. He liked people and he like to eat with people. He couldn’t refuse an invitation to dinner with anyone - Pharisees, tax collectors, his friend Lazarus, and Lazarus’ sisters. He’s in a big field talking to thousands of people and decides he needs to feed them. Of course, he could just make them not get hungry. That would be a miracle, but instead, his miracle consists of feeding them instead.
On the night he died, he sat down to dinner with his friends. He didn’t institute a symbol of the new covenant out of nowhere. He consecrated the very meal that they’d had together so many times before. How could anyone who has ever been fed Christ’s body ever sit down at any meal with any friend and not remember?
Even after the resurrection, first thing he does when he shows himself to his close friends, is fix them a meal (fish for breakfast). Later on, he walks a long way with a couple guys and upon reaching their house, goes in and has supper with them.
And then the biggie, Jesus talked about the big meal both cryptically and straight up. It's another wedding reception. He started his public ministry at a wedding reception and he'll bring it all to fruition at a wedding reception. Some things don't even operate as symbols, but are the thing themselves. There is nothing symbolic about eating and drinking with friends. It is the real thing.
Imitating Jesus is a very difficult discipline. Who can possibly do it? But here is a major aspect of his character and personality that should be no problem to imitate. Share the table with others.