Friday, August 2, 2013

Meals and Group Life

I'm working on my next book today. Here are a couple of paragraphs that I wrote about sharing meals. Any feedback?

When I read the Gospels while asking the question “Where was Jesus?” I’m continually shocked by the fact that I read so much about Jesus eating and at parties. Food and Jesus came together. We also have evidence that the early church most often met over a shared meal. And we know that worship occurred in the early church with the celebration of communion, usually over a meal. In the life of Jesus, we see him relating to his disciples over meals, teaching them over food and even using parables about food. We see him engaging neighbors and networks over meals and parties. The most obvious is that party at Matthew’s house where many tax collectors and sinners had assembled.

There is something about food that moves us beyond technical solutions to problems that we encounter in our small groups. Some things are better addressed by eating together than through strategy sessions and planning meetings. Sharing a meal takes us into a mysterious place where we discover how deal with difficult issues that cannot be addressed through simple direct how to answers. When we eat together, something adaptive occurs, something creative. We discover how to create a space where we accept one another and meet with God in a way that we cannot control. Sharing meals and the presence seem to coincide more than any of us expect. Afterall, the final coming of the kingdom in its full manifestation is compared to a great banquet. Our sharing meals now is just a foretaste of what is to come.

Here are a couple of questions:
How has sharing meals together provided an avenue to address difficult situations?

In what ways has eating together promoted connection between group members?

1 comment:

Andrew Mason said...

I've often pondered these same questions and usually end up with more questions.

On a different note I've thought about how common it is for food to be used as universal form of punishment. Prisons and P.O.W. camps are notorious for the lack of appetizing meals and, in extreme cases, malnourishment.

In contrast to small groups, when community and social connections are looking to be fragmented, food is also leveraged, but in a negative way.