His Banner Over Me Is Food (part 2)

[This is a follow-up to yesterday’s post.]

Pause with me as we rewind to last Sunday afternoon around 2 o’clock, when a handful of friends were sitting in our living room after our monthly potluck lunch.

One friend, we’ll call her Mary Lou, turns to me and says, “I have a blog topic for you.”

You can imagine how much this thrills me, considering my motivation for blogging these days. But I do not say that. Instead, I say, “Oh yeah?” And then she goes and brings up the Gospel passage from the morning’s Lectionary readings. (Mary Lou is Catholic, and we are Baptist, but that’s one of the beautiful things about churches that follow the Revised Common Lectionary–we can all sit around and talk about church together.)

So she brings up the Gospel reading, which happened to be one of the parables from Matthew (22:1-14) about widespread invitations to a wedding feast.

Banquets, feasts, tables being set–you may have noticed that these all come up in scripture a great deal. There’s the banqueting table from Song of Solomon that made it into yesterday’s children’s song. There’s the feast for the prodigal son. There’s the wedding at Cana where Jesus turns the water into wine, his first miracle. (Notice that the story is actually about the wedding feast, not the wedding, despite what your Bible’s subheadings say.) There’s the table set for us in the presence of our enemies in Psalm 23. (Speaking of which, why do we never talk about this? Eating with the enemy? Goodness.)

And, among others, we have this parable in Matthew, an invitation to a wedding feast.

What Mary Lou wanted me to think about was the fact that this is not an invitation to a wedding. It is an invitation to a feast, a feast that required much preparation, and multiple invitations. I don’t know what all the ancient traditions were, and obviously I’m no Bible scholar, but clearly there is something going on.

There’s lots of feasting in the Bible. It’s happening in parables, in real-life stories, in metaphors for the Kingdom of God, the second coming of Christ, heck, the first coming of Christ. He’s the one who tells his disciples to remember him with a meal.

In the Bible, in the Christian tradition, in church basements all over America–you name the place and people are there eating.

Because, my friends, we like to eat.

We need to eat.

And something happens when we eat together.

Maybe it’s part of the imago dei–that is, the image of God–being realized in a tangible way in our midst.

Yeah, I think so. I’m going with that.

What do you think?

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4 comments on “His Banner Over Me Is Food (part 2)

  1. Sheila Klopfer says:

    Well since you have brought us to the place where we might consider eating as something that images God, I’ll mention one of my favorite trinitarian pieces of artwork. Its an icon entitled ‘Trinity’ by Andrei Rublev an early fifteenth century Russian Orthodox artist. It displays the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit sitting around a table. And my favorite part, is there is an empty space at the table, which invites the onlooker to join in the meal. I like that.

  2. kelsie says:

    Recently, I went to Alabama to attend a cousin’s wedding. I stayed with my Aunt and Uncle, and many of the things my Aunt and I would talk about reminded me of community (and your blog!). The story I thought of after I read this post is about them driving my cousin to college and taking her roommate out to dinner before leaving. Because it helped everyone get over those jittery feelings. Because it was a chance for them to get to know one another. Because something happens when people eat together that might not happen at other times.

    • elizabeth says:

      Good example, Kelsie. Eating together is so tightly wound up with hospitality–being welcoming, being a guest (who is vulnerable) and being a host, being The Host, that is, Christ in the Eucharist, and being Christ to others.

      I guess we shouldn’t forget that lots of people, of course, also associate negative feelings with meals and eating together, especially big family meals around the holidays, and that’s a real shame. I think when that happens we miss an opportunity.

      Thanks for commenting!

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