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Eating Together {Practice}

“If you really want to make a friend, go to someone’s house and eat with them. The people who give you their food give you their heart.”
~ Cesar Chavez
A common scene in the Gospels is Jesus eating with others. About a third of the time he ate with critics and sinners, a third with strangers, and a third with disciples, friends, and family. Many different kinds of experiences happened around Jesus’ table: healing, teaching, informing, rebuking, anointing feet, and washing feet.
What happens around our tables? Who are we eating with? Most of us are lucky to actually sit down at night to eat our dinner. Many of us eat on the go, at our desks, or with Netflix as our only company. What if eating could be so much more?
In the Old Testament, relationships were affirmed by breaking bread together. Treaties were sealed with meals. The covenant with God was reaffirmed by ritual feasts. In fact, the word for "covenant" possibly had its origin in the Hebrew word for eating which occurs 810 times in the Old Testament Hebrew and nine times in Aramaic.
What is obvious from the Bible is that eating together meant something to God’s people—and Jesus himself—and so it can mean something to us too.
Eating together is a bridge between strangers. The need to eat is something every human has in common. All you need to make a connection is your shared hunger and thirst.
Eating together brings people together. Gathering around the table creates space for friends, families, and couples to connect. More than that, it can create an opening for friendship with people who are different from us. Jesus’ habits of table fellowship ask us to explore our own habits of how we eat together and with whom.
The primary bonding power of food and the most intimate Christian experience as a community is seen in the celebration of the Lord's Supper, a meal that has become a symbol of unity in faith. Shared meals also foreshadow the heavenly feast we will enjoy in eternity.
Ask God for the grace to see the table as more than a way to nourish our bodies but as a way to feed our souls as well—ours and others.
For more on eating together, check out these resources:
The Spiritual Significance of Eating by Margaret Minnicks
The Supper of the Lamb by Robert Farrar Capon
Taste and See by: Margaret Feinberg
Tasting Grace: Discovering the Power of Food to Connect Us to God, One Another, and Ourselves by: Melissa d'Arabian
Real Love for Real Life: The Art and Work of Caring by Andi Ashworth
— Reflect + Practice —
It’s easy to eat with friends and family, but do we choose to eat with those we don’t know?
How can we share food with our wider community?
How often do we eat with our neighbors who are alone?
And what about the person for whom eating with others is difficult?
How can we be inclusive of those who are unable to eat freely for health reasons, those with diabetes, allergies or food intolerances, those with eating disorders?

Formed well to love well