Share a meal and you share life
As the season of Harvest festivals approaches, Rev Edward Carter has been reflecting upon the importance of sharing meals in our relationships with others.
Have you ever had a meal that’s been so amazing, you’ve never forgotten it? I can think of a few, but the funny thing is – it wasn’t really the food I ate that made it so memorable, it was the people I shared the table with.
I’m thinking of a crazy, joyous lunch in my back garden with some visiting Christians from India. And the last time my wife and I had supper at home with our two sons, now all grown up and moved away. And the time I sipped a cup of tea and nibbled a biscuit with someone I loved, knowing it was the last time I’d see them.
Sharing food and drink with others isn’t just about getting in the calories, nor is it completely about the flavours of the meal and the skill of the cook – although they are important as well.
Sharing a table and eating together is about sharing life. And that idea of ‘sharing’ makes me think about the solidarity I have with others, as well as a sense of fairness, and of the amazing blessings that God’s creation includes.
When Moses and the Israelites escaped from Egypt and began their journey through the wilderness, almost the first thing that happened was God’s gift of the manna from heaven. It was that food which bound the people together and sustained them. The description of how they were to collect this gift of food makes it very clear that there shouldn’t be any unfairness. Each person and family was to have just what they needed.
And when Jesus spoke about this manna from heaven, he went on to say, ‘I am the bread of life’. He placed himself – and he placed a meal – right at the heart of the relationship between God and human beings.
Harvest thanksgiving makes me think about the food I eat day by day, and about taking a bag of tins and other tasty provisions to church, ready to send on to the Foodbank.
But Harvest thanksgiving also makes me stop and think about the ‘bread of life’, and about the way Jesus sustains me. You see, Jesus doesn’t really feed individuals as separate people – he feeds people who’ve gathered at a table, to share life together, and to share life with God.
Now that’s a meal which is so amazing I hope I never forget it!
Reverend Canon Edward Carter is the vicar of St Peter Mancroft Church in Norwich.
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