Last Friday evening Good Shepherd Episcopal Church provided us with three large pans of pizza casserole and two strawberry shortcake cakes. This is not about the food other than it was awesome. As a matter of fact, every Friday a church brings by a dinner for The Block.
There is something special about sharing a meal. It’s difficult to sit and eat with someone without it being an enjoyable time. It opens us up to conversations, laughter, intimacy, and bonding so easily. It makes us vulnerable in a pleasant way. Sharing food comfortably makes for comfortable fellowship.
Jesus seemed to like to share meals. He ate with others over a dozen times in Scripture. Now not all of those times were as pleasant for some as I noted above. But at most something touching occurred in the story. Water turned into wine, a tax collector becomes a Disciple, another tax collector returns his ill-gotten gains, a prostitute washes Jesus’s feet with her tears, 5000 are fed with a sack lunch, and the Kingdom of God is presented in every meal.
Let’s pretend for a moment that Jesus knew what He was doing. What if He got it right? What would happen if we added chairs to our tables to those we would normally avoid? What if we picked up the reputation of being friends of gluttons and drunkards? Isn’t that how some referred to Jesus?
We provide food in sacks twice a week to those on the street who don’t have food. The sacks contain pop top cans of pasta, cans of Vienna sausages, fruit cups and other easy to open and ready to eat items. But we believe that shared meals are important too. Maybe more so.
For some it is the only shared meal they will have during the week. It’s nice to sit and visit over dinner. Some show up and take the meal with them but we always have a few that honor us by sitting down while they eat. I don’t write this flippantly. This is an important part of building kinship for us. Walls come down and bridges are built over a plate of pizza casserole and strawberry cake. And the Kingdom of God is present with the server and the recipient. Lines of differences and divisions disappear while we eat together.
This is the Way it should be. One day we are told there will be this huge Banquet. Where will I sit I Wonder? But more importantly, who will I sit next to and across from? I hope I share a table with Cotton, Sweet Pea, Peanut, and so many others. I want to hear us all laughing at the wonder of it all. I want to see Jesus come strolling by, stopping and placing his hands on Cotton’s shoulders, and hear him say something like, “I always loved it when you guys got together.”
That will be awesome!