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shared meals

November 2, 2009

Shared meals have been a part of religious practice from the beginning. I have a particular fascination with the early Christian communities and the record of their life together in the book of Acts. They are eating together from the first pages of that book and if there’s something they do consistently throughout their early formation it was eating meals.

Acts 2

42They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. 43Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles. 44All the believers were together and had everything in common. 45Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. 46Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, 47praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.

So amidst the epic events of the coming of the Spirit and formation of the church what were the first followers of Jesus doing? Eating. Possibly the most mundane, universal thing that any of us could do. Something we do daily from birth till death. So what makes it so special and why would it become one of the 4 practices (alongside the more obvious and to me at least expected practices related to Scripture, prayer and fellowship) that were central to the life of the earliest Jesus community?

Jesus ate and he ate well, meaning he ate in a way that was life giving and inclusive. Jesus ate with his disciples and at the end of his taught to eat in a way that they could remember him, be mindful of him, include him even though he was physically absent.

So we can ask ourselves are we devoted to “the breaking of bread”? What would devotion to THAT even look like? Is it simply showing up at church each week and consuming tiny pieces of bread/crackers and an ounce of wine/juice? Perhaps that is it. But maybe there’s more as well…. what if the “Lord’s supper” really was meant to be a leisurely, shared meal that actually filled us up in every way. What might that look like?

*** What were some of your most special, memorable meals? What made them special and memorable?

One Comment leave one →
  1. November 2, 2009 11:53 am

    the latest meal that has left a lasting impression was two weeks ago. there was a team of people who had been dealing with a crisis in church, and had been to more and more meetings trouble-shooting and problem-solving, and it seemed like it would overwhelm us…and from tose difficult but necessary meetings we would go each to their own home, somewhat isolated to deal with stuff. so, we decided that we needed a different kind of meeting, a sacred meal, set apart where we could just come and be friends and share a meal. i carefully prepared a perfect beef bourguignon, with baguettes and a few salads…really rich, hearty stuff. and something special happened…there was a lot of laughter and joy and in the midst of very trying circumstances…this meal (and hopefully more in the future) re-formed us relationally…it re-fashioned something that had been neglected. and the best part was: it was just a meal…and yet it became more than a meal…we were feasting on something more sumptuous than hearty provincial fare, a joie de vivre was imparted by the simple practice of the presence of each other…

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