In this season of reading Luke’s Gospel, I’ve realized that you could make the case that Christian practice is largely about eating. In the Great Commission in Matthew 25 Jesus tells us that when we feed the hungry, we feed him. So many saints have dedicated themselves to making sure that the hungry are fed—that is, putting needed nutrients into hungry bodies. But Jesus shows us a second level of feeding, one that is transformative of the soul: the importance of table fellowship with simple feeding.
Jesus is eating all the time! He eats with everyone: with sinners like the tax collectors Levi and Zacchaeus and with the upright like the pharisee who invited him to dinner in this week; with men and women; with dear friends like Mary, Martha and Lazarus and with enemies from across the border in the Gentile lands; at weddings in Cana and at Passover meals in Jerusalem; in wheat fields with his disciples and at fancy feasts with leaders in the community and feeding 5,000 and 7,000 at a sitting in the remote countryside. He eats with others so often that he is accused of being a drunkard and a glutton in Luke 7:34 and Matthew 11:19.
We need to eat or we will die. That simple necessity—eating—can be made holy through table fellowship which is transformative, and that nurtures not only body but spirit.
There is something profound about that-which-is-necessary becoming that-which-is-transcendent. I often feel that transformation when Chris and I are eating a meal with family or friends, sharing stories, enjoying jokes, teasing each other. I also feel it at communion. I spent some years away from the church, and when I returned what moved me most was simply watching the congregation come to the altar, week after week, people coming to receive. I loved that some needed crutches or canes or help, some danced their way up while holding a family member’s hand, some sedately making their way forward, week after week after week. At another church we attended there was a Special Class, a group of developmentally disabled adults. One member of the class frequently started worship by coming to the altar, kneeling on the ground, and bending her head all the way down, staying there for long minutes in deep, extended reverence.
Chris and I loved having table fellowship with many of you in our home a few Sundays ago, even if it was crowded and a little hot. As we become more settled in the Greencastle community, we look forward to multiple opportunities to share table fellowship with you—simple food, simple fellowship, around the altar, around the ordinary tables of Hamilton Hall and eateries in Greencastle. And I am so happy to tell you that through the encouragement and work of Kate Berry and Claudia Butler St. Andrew’s will again be offering Sunday Eucharist at The Waters once a month. I know how much I have savored communion when I have not been able to go; I am so glad that we share communion, worship, and fellowship to those not able to make it to the Seminary Street sanctuary. Our first Sunday Eucharist at The Waters will be Oct 9 in the afternoon. You are most welcome to join the feast.
May we all be attuned to the rich life that can emerge from the simplest and most necessary of actions.