I've come to believe in the Field of Dreams adage, with a twist--instead of "if you build it, they will come", "if you feed them they will come." There is so much in the Bible, both the Old and New Testaments, that emphasizes the importance of sharing food in community.
In the Old Testament the laws that restrict the sharing of food to those who are part of the Covenant People sets the Jewish people apart and makes them distinctive for their observance of the kosher dietary laws. The community becomes defined by the foods consumed and the way in which they are prepared. Food becomes symbolic of the religious and historical experience of the people in the Passover meal.
In the New Testament, Christ multiplies the loaves and fishes and turns the water into wine at a wedding. He is depicted in the Gospels eating and drinking with his friends and followers and is criticized for it. He directed the disciples at the Last Supper to remember Him by continuing to gather together for meals--breaking the bread and sharing the wine.
As summer is ebbing away, we are planning for the resumption of our regular programs and activities at the church. A glance at the calendar for the coming months shows a number of events that involve sharing food together. One of the great strengths of the Alpha program is the inclusion of a shared meal as an integral part of the group meeting time. I have wanted to see us offer a regular opportunity for shared meals together with group study and discussion even when Alpha was not in session.
Now one of our young "Marthas" has stepped forward to offer to take responsibility for making that happen. It's a very big job, but a rewarding one. I am convinced that one of the most important spiritual gifts is the gift of hospitality and that it is often underrated--maybe because it is still seen as "women's work." Without that gift we would be poor indeed. Thanks, "Martha."