I read a lovely article this morning on a website I sometimes peruse. Much of the time I am put off by the content of this particular website, well, not so much the website, it is nicely designed and all that, but by the “blog” that is written there. A series of articles by women(mostly), some fairly prominent, within the evangelical community. Sometimes the articles seem so self-righteous, or whiny, or something I can’t quite put my finger on. But, once in a while, there is something that really hits me. And that makes the other stuff worth wading through.
I need to be honest, I read the content with a biased eye. Long, long ago, I knew one of the women who is now involved in this website/ministry, and she hurt me. Badly. A sucker punch to the gut, totally unexpected and incredibly damaging.
I haven’t seen her in a long time, we both moved away from the scene of the crime many years ago. But we have kept in touch with her husband, and he alerted me to this new venture of hers. So I started reading, hoping to soften the scar a bit. Well, that hasn’t happened. I think the scar tissue around that part of my heart is pretty thick, it was once a very big wound, and I can still feel it tug on occasion.
Back to the content of the website.
So I read this blog-thing, and sometimes find a nugget I can take with me. And today, I found not just a nugget, but a whole big rock!
A really long and rambling, and totally ridiculous introduction to a topic close to my heart.
enjoy, reflect, let me know what you think.
Food, Culture, and True Communion
March 11, 2008 |
Sometimes I am reticent to invite people over for dinner. I wish I weren’t, but I am. This is why: I am tired of people talking about their personal food preferences. Any given day, I can easily list off several friends or acquaintances who are following some sort of individualized diet—weight loss or not. There’s the standard vegetarians, vegans, all types of intolerances, simple likes and dislikes, and now, the winner of the Oxford University Press Word of the Year 2007, “Localvore.” Localvores are people who eat only food produced within a hundred-mile radius of their home.
Funny thing: I’m kind of a localvore. My husband and I own a share in a CSA (community supported agriculture) farm, own another share of a dairy herd, and purchase meat from local farmers. But when I go out, I keep my localvore locked in my house.
Why? Because I love communion.
In my church, we take communion every Sunday, standing in a circle, passing the bread and the cup to one another, saying, “Christ’s body, broken for you,” and “Christ’s blood, shed for you.” I love communion. I love that we share ubiquitous foodstuffs, bread and wine. It’s nothing fancy—caviar, say, or imported limoncello.
In the New Testament, communion was utterly counter-cultural because Jews and Gentiles would sit and eat together. And they would eat the same food. These shared meals became quite controversial, too, as the early church navigated issues of eating food sacrificed to idols and whether or not Gentiles should become circumcised.
But communion, or a sort of communion at least, depending on your tradition’s theology, can happen at more places than just church. Anytime we share a meal with others is communing. We commune with our brothers and sisters in the presence of the Holy Spirit.
And as important as I believe food is—and I believe it’s very important and very socially and spiritually significant—I believe relationships with others are more important. I believe God has called us first to love others. Our preferences or ideals—even those made with sound Christian ethics or concern for environmental and physical health—should take a distant second to the first. Why? Because relationships matter and truly sharing a meal means sharing a meal—not just sitting together picking at individual plates of food, but passing a dish, and enjoying the same fruits of creation.
I lock my localvore in the house because I am not, really, a localvore. I am a Christian. My identity in Christ far exceeds my ideas and ideals about food.
So I challenge you to eat well and healthfully, but moreover, to show that you love others more than you love your ideas about food. Start by receiving any type of hospitality with open arms and an open mouth, if applicable.
Will you? What do you think?