Feasting Well in Life
There is a new fascination with food in the globalized world of today.
I am all for creativity and innovation. However, we would do well not to neglect the traditional aspects of food, which bring depth and beauty to the human experience, making it less selfish, self-aggrandising, where meals are set in the classical context of giving, community, family and relationships.
The Bible offers some of these helpful perspectives.
Hosting a guest at one’s dinner table can serve as an expression of welcome and acceptance. To eat with someone is to embrace him. Jesus often ate with the rejects and outcasts of society, an association that drew the criticism of the self-righteous religious elite of his day. He dined with tax collectors and prostitutes, sharing with them and engaging them in conversation. How often do we find ourselves connecting with others, even strangers, over a shared meal?
Meals and feasting also carry the idea of resting from labour. The Bible takes this further in its portrayal of a heavenly banquet as 'salvation rest' from work, and the ravages of sin and suffering in this world. When we feast and eat, we naturally experience an inner sense of rest. One of the most well-known passages in the Bible must be Psalms 23. The psalm begins with the image of a guiding Shepherd but ends with us being served by a Chef – "You prepare a table before me…." Psalm 23:5). Each meal can be a picture of that rest, even if it just provides a brief respite in the midst of the stress of everyday life. Take time to enjoy food. If you are eating with someone, enjoy the conversation and company while being fully present and engaged.
Associated with the idea of rest is also the theme of re-gathering. This is one reason the Bible refers to meals when it describes homecoming events such as the Parable of the Banquet (Luke 14:15-24). With each meal, whether in our homes, especially the precious Chinese New Year reunion dinner, or in church at the Lord's Supper, we anticipate the great gathering in heaven with Christ.
The idea of welcome, rest and home is also powerfully portrayed in the Parable of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11-31). The youngest son squanders away his inheritance. He returns in shame, hoping for his father’s forgiveness yet feeling unworthy to be called his son. His father does much more than forgive. He throws a lavish feast which includes a fattened calf to celebrate the restoration of a son who had gone astray. He exclaims: “Let’s have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.” To gather around the table again reflects the reinstatement of the son’s position in the family. In feasting, the family celebrates the ties that bind. Yes, a family that eats together stays together.
In fact, the Church eats together as it gathers to partake in Holy Communion or the Lord’s Supper. Christians are simply doing what they were commanded to do by Jesus. In doing so, they experience once again welcome and acceptance into God’s family, the rest He provides from the toils and troubles of life and celebrate His goodness. Christians are simply grateful that they are forgiven and accepted by the Father, and they remember this over a spiritual meal.
I look forward to seeing my mother who is now with the Lord at the Heavenly Banquet. That will be a double homecoming for me.
I hope this blog/cookbook will not only inspire you in your cooking but in your reflection on the meaning of life, family and community. I believe that our experience of food and cooking can be made richer and more meaningful when it is experienced as designed by our Creator.
I recall the promise in the words of Jesus, ‘’I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” (John 10:10)
My prayer for you is to have this life to the full, where food and feasting is experienced in the context of rich relationship with your friends, family and your Creator.
He also declared, "I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty. (John 6:35)
There is a food that is deeply satisfying ad I pray that you may know and experience this.