Why is eating such an important part of most gatherings?
Do You Have Anything to Eat?
“Do you have anything to eat?” My wife wasn’t raised in the South. Her cultural sensibilities would never allow her to ask for something to eat. I grew up in the South where when someone asked if you wanted anything, you were free to ask. What you were not free to do (in the rural South of my childhood) was to refuse food when it was offered to you. Eating was not only something you did to satisfy hunger; you ate as a way of showing respect and mutuality.
The weekly, ceremonial gathering of Christians is a meal. Jesus instituted this new custom while participating in a very old ritualized meal with his disciples. It is the Christmas dinner or the Thanksgiving lunch that show up in all the “ain’t it good to be home” artworks.
Sharing a meal; sharing food; eating – something happens here that far transcends our ability to understand or to explain. Something just feels right about it. Something about it speaks louder than any words or with greater clarity than any explanation. It speaks to our unspoken selves. It communicates to those parts of us which are accessible only by way of emotion and conviction.
- Recall a time when sharing a meal allowed you to learn something about your host (or your guest) that you would have never thought to ask in general conversation.
- Allow yourself to chuckle at a “dinner mishap”, something like the time my brother-in-law drank from the bowls of water set on the table for folks to rinse their fingers.
Third Sunday of Easter
(Text links are to Oremus Bible Browser. Oremus Bible Browser is not affiliated with or supported by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. You can find the calendar of readings for Year B at Lectionary Readings
For lectionary humor and insight, check the weekly comic Agnus Day.
Of course they had something to eat. There was almost always something there to eat. Only eight verses earlier they were prepared to share a meal with the resurrected Jesus when he suddenly disappeared (Luke 24:31b). Why did they not think to offer him something? Why was he left to ask?
The text suggests it may have been a result of their being “startled and terrified.” When Jesus came and stood among them, they weren’t completely sure it was him. Luke’s narrative suggests they “thought they were seeing a ghost.” Before they can reclaim their wits (and their manners) they need to receive the promise Jesus spoke as he appeared among them – “Peace be with you.”
Jesus encourages them to not be frightened. He asks them to look at his hands and his feet. “Touch me and see; for a ghost does not have flesh and bones as you see I have.” (Side note: this is the ONLY biblical passage that speaks of the “flesh and bones” of the risen Lord.) Jesus is no “ghost.” “Ghost,” in the ears of his contemporaries, implied the immortal soul of all the departed as they awaited whatever fate awaited them next. “Touch me and see (touch me and see with the eyes of faith?) that I am not merely a reinforcement of what others have tried to pass as the Truth.” In the resurrected Jesus we encounter something other than merely the desires and longings of those who consider one life-time as insufficient. “Touch me and see that the promises of God and the assurances of God are as real as the flesh and bone of my own body.”
It is after this encounter that Jesus asks for something to eat. Some have suggested he asks in order to show that he is not a “ghost.” The text tells us the disciples were “disbelieving and still wondering.” One writer suggested their disbelief is the enormity of what they have come to realize has happened. They are not wondering whether Jesus is resurrected, they are disbelieving that they would be front and center of this astounding occurrence. If we can begin to think such, then Jesus asking for something to eat might be seen as an acknowledgement of the need for the disciples to be active. What if Jesus is asking for something to eat, not in order to prove he is flesh and bone, but because he is hungry? What if he wants them to realize that seeing him and believing in him means following him and that means feeding the hungry? Earlier (in Matthew’s account,) Jesus had celebrated the sheep’s feeding the hungry. Later (in John’s account) he will instruct them to “feed my lambs.”
The Resurrected Jesus is not some disembodied ghost. He is not some celestial being. He remains the God who set aside the heavens in order to make his home among us. The Resurrected Jesus, no less than the Rabbi Jesus “opens our minds to understand the scriptures.” The forgiveness extended to us makes it possible for us to set aside concerns for ourselves and act on behalf of the other.
“Do you have anything to eat?” “Sure I do. I can offer you a bologna sandwich, a few scrambled eggs. Some boiled fish. And to feed the hunger that resides deep inside you I can offer you a morsel of bread and a sip of wine – both of which come with the assurance that she who receives it receives the peace which sets aside all reasons to be startled and terrified.”
“Come and eat. And when you are finished, maybe you will help me. You see, I have been given so much that I am sure it is enough to share with all the nations. And we will share it, together. And bear witness to the abundance that others will be bewildered to consider.”
- What is the difference between an immortal soul (the belief of the Greeks) and a resurrected life (the teaching of the Christian Church)?
- Might the culture’s fascination with “ghosts” and “ghost stories” prove to be a hindrance to understanding God’s actions on Easter morning?
- The disciples need to be assured and calmed; but they were also being called into action. How do we balance these two objectives in our ministries?
Give to each member of your group, Sunday School class, or member of your family an ample supply of your favorite on-the-go food. I am partial to those nut and salty granola bars; they come in a box of twelve. Instruct those to whom you give a box that they are to look for opportunities to give these away, one at a time, preferably to someone they don’t know. As they offer a snack, all they need to say is, “I was given these, and it is more than I need. Can I share one with you?” Try not to say anything more – if you can. It really is best if you don’t. If you must, you could share that at Easter you were reminded off all that you had received, and that in this Easter season you were encouraged to experience that abundance by having so many snack bars that you had to find opportunities to give them away.
Precious Lord, take my hand, assure me of your peace. Precious Lord, open your hand, allow me to see the wounds you suffered. Precious Lord, use my hands, to share that which has been given me. Together, let all God’s children say – Amen.