I don’t think it’s accidental that one of our two most central acts of worship in the UMC involves the sharing of a meal. The meal of communion may not provide enough nutrition to get you through a whole day, but it is a concrete, physical reminder of our God’s presence in our midst. The grace of God is what sustains our very lives and the fact that we celebrate God’s grace through bread and juice is a reminder God’s grace is not just a spiritual force apart from the realities of nutrition and eating. God permeates everything that we do and all that we are.
It should come as no surprise that I am a big fan of the potluck (or any other food occasion for that matter). I’ll admit I do like to eat, but more than that every meal, by its very nature, in some way points us back to the sacrament of Holy Communion. There is both something uniting and at the same time disturbing that should happen at every meal. On the one hand everybody’s gotta eat. Meals have a way of taking pressure off of social interaction because you don’t have to fill every second with something interesting or unique to do. The act of eating alone is enough to unite a room full of strangers in a common endeavor. Every meal, like communion, should enable us to experience some small part of our lives as part of God’s united family.
On the other hand, not everybody gets to eat. There are some who cannot afford food, some who cannot find it, some who are not invited or for whatever reason are not present to share at the table with others. Being consciously aware that we all need to eat is not sufficient to teach us the practices and priorities it would take to ensure that no child of God ever goes hungry and that no child of God ever feels alone. Every meal, like communion, should at some level be a disturbing reminder that our fellowship around God’s table is not yet perfected and we must always seek to be more faithful to what God is doing in our lives and throughout all creation.
What is one thing we can do as a church to better exhibit hospitality in the sharing of meals?