Think what happens over a simple meal table - in your kitchen or in a cafe: the meal table is where you share stories, laugh at jokes, have debates, poke fun at each other, develop arguments, tell uncomfortable truths, ask forgiveness, discuss important decisions, shed tears, celebrate birthdays. Meals aren’t just about food. They’re about relationships.
Jesus ate loads of meals. So many that his opponents labelled him a glutton and a drunkard! But he ate so many meals with people because he wanted to get to know people, and he wanted people to get to know him.
Meals with Jesus almost always included a surprise - like who was on the guest list ("tax collectors and sinners"), how to feed 5000+ people with one packed lunch, what the bread and wine represented. Over the summer, we're looking at various 'meals with Jesus' from Luke's gospel.
But I don't just want us to sit and learn about Jesus. I want us to put it into practise.
Would you eat like Jesus?
I don’t mean eating reclining on your side as they often did in those days.
I mean - would you eat meals with other people? One person wryly observed that Jesus’ mission strategy was to eat and drink with others.
As I look around our church at the groups which work well - the common feature is often that they share food together. The walking groups inevitably stop for a pint, or for tea and cake. The 18-30s group often share meals together. Allsorts and Beacon host regular meals. Superstars starts with breakfast. The men’s cell goes for a curry together. Meals bond us, they deepen friendships - they leave us with more rounded stomachs - and more rounded characters for having spent time with others.
Over the summer, lots of our regular church activities and groups take a break. But none of us are going to stop eating over the summer. So let’s eat with each other, and invite others along, too.
It doesn’t need to be a posh meal - it can be beans on toast.
Your home doesn’t need to be spotless.
Your kids don’t need to be perfect – ours aren’t!
You just need to spend time with people, like Jesus did! One writer says this, “If every Christian household regularly invited a stranger or a poor person into their home for a meal once a week, we would literally change the world by eating!”
So ... eat like Jesus. Invite others around; accept invitations. Invite people you wouldn’t normally think of inviting. Change the world – by eating.
Dan and co.
Dan is vicar of St James' by the Park. Some blog posts are by him; others are by members of the congregation - with one or two guest posts thrown in for good measure!