Summary: The social impact of gathering to eat together increases the trust between people and our effectiveness as heralds of the good news AND ACTS AS A BOOSTER TO PROTECT AGAINST SIN.
There are a couple of big questions on the minds of many people: Do I or don't I get the vaccination? And if I am going to get the vaccination, when? The question becomes more complex when a person is frail for one reason or another. Then there is the matter of believing in the science and the medical practitioners offering the cure. Do I wait for a while to see what the issues/side effects are or do I trust in the science and go ahead?
While fear is at the root of these questions, whether you accept the solution offered or not, your fate is ultimately determined by your personal choice. In much the same way, the deadliest virus of all time has but one cure and your fate is determined by your choice.
The good news is we have a vaccination. A vaccination which, like the ones offered for COVID, allows the user to experience some aspects of the disease without the fatal consequences. The vaccination is the repenting of your old lifestyle and the acceptance of the new one with Jesus. A process for some is like the sting of the needle of the other vaccinations that soon fades and requires only a regular booster to keep someone protected. These vaccination boosters are what we call our Christian values.
The second booster comes in the form Eating with others. By eating with others in Christ's name we not only demonstrate God’s love, we stave off the potential effects of the virus of this life: namely sin.
Psychiatrist Carl Jung said, “You are what you do, not what you say you’ll do.”
Aristotle said, “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.”
Therefore, we need to conscientiously develop our way of interacting with the world so as to to alert others to the vaccination that comes from recognizing the universal reign of God through Jesus. In applying the rhythms of Christian life, we are propelled outward, beyond ourselves, into the lives of others so we get to share the benefits of the vaccination with others.
Confession time: I’m a foodie. I come from a long line of foodies. People who love to go out to dinner or eat new places. I remember judging my parents when they were alive about the number of times they went out to dinner in a given week. I can remember them boasting that they had been to every restaurant in a 20 mile radius of the house. Eating out is one of great luxuries of our time. We don’t just eat chicken and rice everyday but we get to try new dishes from different backgrounds. What a blessing.
However, when we use the vaccination booster word ‘EAT’ it’s not about the food (although important) but the company or people at the meal. It’s about the relationships formed over the food.
Dinner in Mediterranean countries such as Italy or Greece is usually a big affair that is taken seriously. In some countries it is usual to start quite late in the evening. For example, in Greece, appetizers often begin around 8 or 9pm with dinner at 10pm. Having meals in this slow and relaxed manner amplifies the social nature of the meal, and its associated benefits.
In Italy, lunch is seen as the social meal of the day, as children do not go to school in the afternoon and many small businesses close in the early afternoon. Therefore there is plenty of time to relax and enjoy the luxury of several courses.
Japan is widely known for its tea ceremony, the Chado. Drinking tea together symbolises intimacy, equality and tranquillity. Importantly, it calms the mind. In Japan, people also tend to share a number of dishes rather than eating only from their own plate, which makes the meal a more social affair.
An article in the Washing Post (2017) claims eating together improves a person's health by: reducing stress, improving problem solving, increasing cognitive ability and enhancing memory function. With all this evidence, I think we should all just eat more. How about you? Do you believe it? https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2017/apr/14/health-benefits-eating-together/
It was Jesus who told us that when we gather we should eat together. His foes would often criticize him because of who he ate with. He was accused of being a drunkard and glutton. Obviously Jesus was none of those but it didn’t stop him from engaging with people over some food.
In Luke's accounts of Jesus life, its been said He was either going to, participating in,, or coming from a meal when the bulk of His ministry took place.
So it should come as no surprise to us that one of Jesus commands was to remember him at meal time. Luke 22:19 - “And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it and gave it to them, saying,’This is my body given for you, do this in remembrance of me.’”