September 15th – Eating Together

I know it may sound stupid to say it, but in our modern, well-fed western world most of us do not eat because we are hungry. We eat because it’s meal time. Yes, I know that when it gets to dinner time we are ready for it, and we can clear our plates and thankfully feel satisfied, but the habit of eating plays a bigger part in our eating than we often realise. Now strangely that is not always such a bad thing. Of course it’s bad if we eat just for the sake of it, and even worse if we insist on feeding on and drinking the very things our bodies don’t need. Nevertheless, I want to put in a plea for the habit of eating together. Yes, even the ritual of eating together. It’s not the regular habit of healthy eating that causes trouble, it’s eating the wrong foods at the wrong time, and this imbalance is often caused by ignoring the healthy habit of eating together regularly. But you know all this.
What I’m driving at is the truth that unless you are starving, or dying of thirst, eating and drinking are not acts undertaken merely to fill our stomachs. Eating together as a family, as a community, is more than mechanical refuelling, it is meant also to be a spiritual exercise. Why it can even be a sacrament.
Much of the Bible’s great celebrations take place round a communal table. Think of the Passover, or of Jesus feeding the 5000 – which was much more than a picnic, it was a Messianic sign – or think of the Last Supper, as well as all those Biblical feast days. Even for millions of people who acknowledge no god, and who scorn all things spiritual, Christmas dinner, for example, is so much more than a big feed. It is a celebratory meal:it’s an occasion, centred on eating, but is much more than merely satisfying our hunger.So is asking someone out to dinner!
Perhaps we should ponder what Jesus meant when he said:
When the hour came, Jesus and his apostles reclined at the table. And he said to them, “I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. For I tell you, I will not eat it again until it finds fulfilment in the kingdom of God.” Luke 22:14-16
Point to ponder:
Our Lord said he eagerly desired, even yearned to eat Passover with his followers before his torture began. Why? Is this why the Last Supper became called ‘Communion’?
And meditate on the words that “The Lord Jesus took bread and gave thanks” … “in the same way … the cup …” I Cor. 11:24a, 25b
A Prayer:
Enable us, Lord, press us Lord, to toil that no peoples go hungry, anywhere on earth; and deepen our hunger for the companionship of Jesus.
Now read Luke 22:7-39.

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