TABLE - Why Jesus Chose to Build Community Around a Meal

People building community around a meal

Food is a great unifier.

Throughout the Gospels we see Jesus using food to bring people together.

When He wanted to get through to Zacchaeus He went round to his house for a meal.

When He wanted to explain what the kingdom of God is like, He did it using a meal; and told us to carry on that practice.

Jesus came from a tradition that also used meals to signify certain things. In the Jewish tradition they celebrated feasts such as Passover, Pentecost, Yom Kippur and Tabernacles; handing on the wisdom to the next generation.

The same is true for every civilisation. Food acts as a central point that people gather around. It was a place where stories were told and wisdom was passed down. 

It was a place that fostered community and developed family, because we all need food to survive.

We are moving further and further away from the origins of our food. The food we consume is more heavily processed and perfectly cleaned than ever before. We expect it to look uniform and as a result so much food is wasted.

So too have we moved further away from the table. Congregating instead around the television, food trays on our laps. We have chosen the roles of passive observers of a distant drama, rather than participants in a real and present place. 

To listen; to truly listen is becoming more and more difficult as we attempt to make sense of the noise that we are subjected to on a daily basis. 

The art of conversation is a dwindling form, punctuated by sound bytes, and interrupted incessantly by noise and lights.

Our faith is about relationship.

It calls us back to relationship.

The incarnation reminds us that relationship matters. It is far more important than wealth,  or status, or entertainment. Anything worth having takes effort, and it is the same for our relationships.

As a society we are more divided than ever. Yet we still have food in common. Let us get back to the table. Let us continue to share and learn together.

May we dust off our tables, may we prepare good food, And may we build relationships.

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