Eating together (27-10-22)
While Jesus was having dinner at Matthew’s house, many tax collectors and sinners came and ate with him and his disciples. (Matthew 9. 10)
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. (Luke 22. 14 – 15)
When they landed, the disciples saw a fire of burning coals there with fish on it, and some bread. Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish you have just caught.” … “Come and have breakfast.”… Jesus came, took the bread and gave it to them, and did the same with the fish. (John 21. 9 – 10, 12 – 13)
The believers broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favour of all the people. (Acts 2. 46 – 47)
Over the past few weeks, we have had various opportunities to eat together as a church family. Forest Church at the beginning of September finished with a picnic in the Pocket Park. We enjoyed Harvest meals in Old and Scaldwell, and then quiz nights at Walgrave and Hannington gave us other opportunities not only to eat together as a church family but also to eat together with members of our village communities who do not regularly attend church services.
The Coffee Morning at the Royal Oak is growing in popularity and the delicious homemade cakes are clearly part of the attraction! Bacon butties at Café Church are also always a hit. Eating together is an important way to relax and really get to know one another, and if I am giving the impression that this is all we do as a church family, then we are in good company.
The gospels are full of accounts of Jesus eating. We have a few examples in our bible readings today. This got Jesus a reputation with the Pharisees as a glutton and drunkard. Nor was Jesus choosy about the company he kept. He was prepared to eat with anybody and everybody.
Food is also comforting. We hear lots of negative comments about comfort eating and it can be a problem if done to excess, but…One of the last things Jesus did before his arrest, trial and crucifixion was to eat the Passover meal with his disciples. He gained strength from eating in their company. Later, after the resurrection, he was also keen to eat with the disciples again, this time to strengthen them and prove he was not a ghost but very much alive. He broke bread with the disciples on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24.30), ate broiled fish behind closed doors in the Upper Room (Luke 24. 42) and cooked a barbecue on the beach in Galilee. A similar pattern continued within the Early Church. It was a way to strengthen their faith and provide for those in need.
In part, the success of the Alpha course is related to gathering together around a meal table as part of the evening. So can I encourage you to follow the example of Jesus and his disciples and the Early Church? You can gather small groups of people for meals round your table at home, but you can also make sure you are present at church and community gatherings to get to know, strengthen and comfort others. It’s not rocket science and we have a fantastic role model in Jesus.
A Prayer Lord Jesus, you were recognized in the breaking of bread with the disciples on the road to Emmaus. May we encounter you in unexpected ways when we eat together with others.