I’m lucky to still have my Grandma living near me, and over Easter her sister Doris came to stay. One of the things we like to do as a family is go for a meal at the local pub, because neither of them are able to get out much on their own. It’s an opportunity for us to share unhurried time where we’re not eating in front of the telly and we really focus on what each other has to say. Grandma and Doris were raised in Halifax, and they talk about their large family often. Busy dinner tables are a really important part of how they remember their childhoods, and the way they raised their own children. Doris is an excellent and keen cook, who makes the best Lemon Drizzle Cake in the country, and there’s nothing Grandma can’t do with a tin of Campbell’s condensed soup and a little imagination. I wasn’t the food that made eating with them special, it was the way in which we came together as a family, and it’s a privilege to continue to do that.
Food was central to Jesus’ ministry on earth. He performed miracles with wine, bread, and fish. He publicly shared meals with tax collectors, and gentiles, and spent his final night eating with his disciples, the same people who were about to deny him, betray him, and leave him behind. He broke religious laws to sit down with people, because in doing so, he healed them, and showed the love of God.
It is sometimes tempting to see Jesus’ ministry as being entirely about the spiritual / inner life, and to forget how much of it was embodied. The Word became Flesh, and the last command he gave to Peter as the Gospel of John tells it is, “feed my sheep”. Yes there are other commands – love one another, share the good news, fight for justice – but this is the fundamental. After all, if we don’t meet the basic needs for food and company that are common to all human experience, there will be no one there to bring justice and good news to.
Perhaps you don’t find it easy to relax and be fed – or to feed others – so here’s a small challenge for you. If you’ve never attended Tiffin ‘n’ Tiaras, Chill & Grace or Feast on Friday, why not come along next time? If you come often, encourage someone to come with you. That’s how families are made.