Eating Together is an Act of Worship
As western christians, we have become guilty as a whole of compartmentalizing both our own lives and the life of the church. We have placed the activities of our daily lives into neatly labeled containers: Work, sports, school, performance container. Eating, tv, reading, video games, and a private life container. Sing songs, listen to sermons, Church containers. Oftentimes this compartmentalizing shows itself in odd ways. We are creatures of habit, and we associate sights, sounds, smells, feels, and sights, with certain containers. Church feels a certain way, therefore it is easy to put it in its own category. The problem is this, God has called us to take up our cross, and follow him with our whole life. We must build habits that allow us to recognize the reality of God in our daily lives. There is no better place to exercise this aspect of our christian lives than around the meal table.
I am not talking about praying over our meals, although thankfulness for his provision should always be our attitude. I am talking about eating with fellow believers. I could here go into a conversation about Acts 2, the gospels as a whole, perhaps the philippians providing for Paul in his time of need. Or perhaps the significance of eating together historically, especially in the first century. Here it is enough to say that all of these are background to what I want to say in plane speech about the act of eating together.
I attended a prayer gathering near where I live. Breakfast was served and people gathered around individual tables. Everyone at our table was served and conversation had begun to flow. The beautiful thing about conversation around a meal table, is that the conversation is a secondary event. Everyone is gathered with a common purpose, to eat. We all have been in those conversations where everyone is competing to try to tell the next story, or make the next point, or just to flap their yap. What happens in these types of conversations barely passes for communication. Everything is huried, selfish, impersonal. The atmosfear is more like a presidential debate than sharing of hearts. Food has a way of slowing conversation down, especially good food. No one is in a hurry to keep their mouth empty long enough to state an opinion, much less a long winded or self absorbed story. Right as our table was starting to settle into good conversation, musicians stepped onto the stage and began to play worship music. All conversation stopped, partially because of the loud volume, and partially because it is considered rude to talk during worship.
Worship through the act of singing together as a congregation is a beautiful thing. Eating together, with good edifying conversation is just as beautiful before God. To ruin good conversation around a shared table, with good worship music, is to fail to give space to a major part of what it means to be the Church. It is to fail to give space to an act that, more than any other, connects heaven to earth. It is in the act of eating together, and fellowshipping with one another, that heart changes made through sermons or worship find their way into our daily lives.
We have goten into the bad habit of labling some activities as sacred and secular. In order of us to feel our minds are ready to enter sacred space, we feel we need to be participating in sacred activities. God is God of our whole lives though. We don’t leave him at the church building. His is with us werever we go, constantly inviting us to fellowship with him. Most of us know this at some level, but our culture as a whole, and sometimes even church culture inadvertantly, cause us not to injest this reality.
Practical Advice For Conversation
Good conversation is focused on the needs of the other. In this world, and sadly, in our churches, few people know how to put the other person first in conversation. But as we learn the skill we will find new depths of relationship. It is a daily, hourly even opportunity to reflect Jesus in humility.
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