Trystan Owain Hughes’ “Real God in the Real World” offers a reflective reading for each day from 1st December to 6th January. Yesterday’s focussed on food, an appropriate theme for both Christmas and Jesus. We enjoy our eating at Christmas, and often take a much longer to both prepare and eat the food, this making it the occasion that a meal should be. We also can say that Jesus was well known for sharing meals with others. It was a hallmark of his ministry, and so symbolises much of our sharing, not least, but not only, when we gather around the Lord’s Table and celebrate Holy Communion.
Hughes is a university chaplain and he mentions the way in which the chaplaincy gathers students to discuss a whole range of things, but not least the major festivals. However, he also talks about a termly celebration of what he describes as “a festival that we have invented”. They call it World Food Night and invites students to bring a dish from their own country to share – “We are treated to a veritable feast with tasty delights …. (and) .. the food actually facilitates some wonderful conversations … “
Hughes goes on to contrast the rush that we are often in to eat our food with the expansion of cookery programmes and books and the many celebrity chefs.
There are many examples of how food is a prominent, and often missional, part of church life. It is certainly a prime way of offering hospitality. Our bring-and-share lunches, community cafés, harvest suppers, Burns suppers, messy church meals, and even coffee after the service can – and do – play their part in the building of relationships and engaging in mission. Gathering around food is often a good means of attraction and engagement. Let’s be ready to take the opportunities that come our way to engage in such hospitality.