Tuesday, June 23, 2009

The Power of a Meal

“He has given food to those who fear Him-He will ever be mindful of His Covenant.” Psalm 111:5
Currently, the preparation of every kind of food imaginable is a very popular form of entertainment; it is also one of the most wholesome forms of entertainment, no pun intended. Cooking is no longer considered the drudgery of the oppressed housewife but a sophisticated skill that has the potential to resolve every problem in one’s life and the power to make one rich and famous. Indeed, food is a very powerful spiritual, cultural, and social leveler; everyone must eat. All significant life events, especially holidays, are enhanced by signature foods. We don’t eat to nourish our bodies alone but we also consume food to satisfy our souls. If food is not consumed it has no value- it can give no sustenance. What we eat and who we eat with can change the lives of individuals, families, cities, and nations forever. The Old and New Testaments illustrate countless examples of the power of a meal.
Spiritual death came into the world because a meal of fruit was consumed by Adam and Eve from the tree of good and evil. The fate of Sodom and Gomorrah was negotiated over a barbeque dinner in front of Abraham’s tent. Esau exchanged his birthright for a bowl of lentil soup. Rebecca cooked a delicious meal for Isaac in order to deceive him and secure “the Blessing” for Jacob. The very night they were delivered from Egypt every Hebrew family was required to consume an entire Passover lamb. A poor widow obeyed the instructions of Elijah and saved her family from starvation during a famine. Queen Esther prepared two sumptuous sit down feasts for King Ahasharurus so that she might soften his idolatrous soul and gain his favor. She skillfully used culinary arts to save the Hebrew exiles from genocide. Never underestimate the power of a meal.
The New Testament dramatizes many stories of how food can be used to accomplish, teach, and demonstrate the power of a meal. Twice Jesus performed a fast food miracle for the multitudes of people who had followed Him into the desert. He served the Passover meal to His disciples before His crucifixion where He tenderly revealed to them what was about to occur. Twice, after His resurrection, the disciples did not recognize the Lord until food was served: once on the road to Emmaus and another when He had prepared a breakfast of fried fish for them. I am very sure that when the disciples ate together after He went back to heaven is when they missed Him the most. The communal meal is how the early church was established: they “broke bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness of heart, praising God…” One day we will all sit down and eat with Him at the marriage supper of the Lamb. Can you imagine the power of that meal??!!!!!
Some of the most pivotal times of my life have been accomplished over a meal with someone or several someones. A few come to mind. My formative years as a Christian are owed to my spiritual mother who lovingly served me tuna fish sandwiches and Russian tea with huge amounts of wisdom and knowledge several times a week at her kitchen table. When we moved to Long’s in 1995, my husband and I determined to take our children out to dinner one night a week to establish a new family tradition. For some reason, the kids were very talkative and open about what was going on in their lives while seated around a table laden with chips, salsa, tacos, and tea. Some conversations were deeply spiritual, which delighted my husband and me. Several years ago, another significant event occurred over a meal with some friends. Our relationship had been fractured beyond repair at one point and the hope of reconciliation out of reach. We agreed to have communion (a meal of forgiveness) together in our living room and then sealed the new beginning with a very expensive meal. Our covenant friendship was renewed and has endured. Recently, Billy and I enjoyed a meal with Joseph and Debbie Holbrook. What a joy! We ate in an outdoor restaurant on the water; we prayed for each out loud other without closing our eyes, folding our hands, or bowing our heads. The Lord's presence was powerful. Currently, I enjoy a very wonderful friendship with Denise. Our friendship began over eight years ago at my kitchen table. Denise and her husband Leon agreed to accept an invitation for lunch with Billy and me. During the years following that initial meal together, Denise and I spent many hours sharing the deep things of the Lord and the challenging aspects of our lives, but never without a serving of food. Tears, laughter, and not a few prayers accompanied these covenant meals. Time has passed and our relationship continues to mature over wonderful servings of grub that both nourish our bodies and provide a reason for restoring each other’s souls. These meals have changed my life forever.
Summertime is fast approaching. Many of us will be sharing meals with a variety of people for a variety of reasons during these months. Every meal shared with those we love and with those we are in covenant with has the potential to change our lives and theirs forever. Never underestimate the power of a meal. Eat, drink and be merry for the kingdom of God depends on it! Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good!!!!!