Jesus spent a lot of time sharing meals with people. So much so, in fact that he was called a glutton, a drunkard and a friend of sinners. I wonder how many of us are in danger of a similar charge because of our love and investment in people? The Bible calls us to hospitality, which it defines as the love of strangers — it’s a great thing to have good friends and family over to a meal, it is an even better thing to include people you don’t know so well.
When I think of why meals were so important to Jesus and why they should be so important to us, a few things came to mind, things that shape us beyond the meal itself.
Sharing a meal takes time.
Sharing a meal can be unhurried.
Sharing a meal is intimate.
Sharing a meal it is creative.
Sharing a meal it’s risky.
Sharing a meal brings us face to face.
Sharing a meal creates community, sustains community, increases community.
Sharing a meal is about relationship, not mere service, relationship which leads to solidarity and community which is hugely important as we seek to become a certain kind of people, people who experience the Extraordinary Way of Jesus.
“Meals take time, meals are inefficient, meals are not ‘productive’. And so meals are streamlined, made efficient, individualized–the personal and relational and communal are abbreviated as much as possible. The vast and encompassing ‘culture of the table is pushed to the sidelines. The centrality of the meal in our lives is greatly diminished. We still eat, of course, but the intricate cultural world of the meal has disintegrated. The exponential rise of fast-food meals means that there is little leisure for conversation; the vast explosion of restaurants is evidence that far less food preparation and clean-up takes place in homes; in many homes the television set is the dominant presence at family meals, virtually eliminating personal relationships and conversations; the frequency with which pre-prepared and frozen meals are used erodes the culture of family recipes and common work.”(Eugene Peterson, Christ Plays in Ten Thousand Places, 216).
This summer we at Creekside want to help foster times at the table. Staff and Leadership Team members are committed to having meals with folks they know and don’t know well at least twice over the Summer. The same invitation is given to you:
Invite some of the people who are part of your vital Christian community and share a meal (at your home or out).
Invite some people you don’t know as well to join you.
Over meals we will deepen existing relationships and build new ones. Ask God to be make his Holy Spirit known as you gather, and watch what He does.
If you need a little help doing this, simply reply to me. If you are willing to host but are not all that comfortable with the inviting side, simply reply to me with the word “Host.” If on the other hand you want to be invited but don’t know how to get that done, send the word “Guest.” Either way, we can help you in arranging these important, casual, fun gatherings.
Consider setting up some dinners this week because time will get behind you and summer calendars get booked. At the end of the summer, we will wrap up by joining in one big community-wide pot luck meal, sharing together what we hope God has been up to this summer weaving us closer together in the spirit.
I can hardly wait for our first meal together.
Peace, hope and love Doug