the weblog of Alan Knox

Meeting and Eating

Posted by on Sep 30, 2007 in fellowship | 3 comments

I love to share a meal with brothers and sisters in Christ whenever possible. Just a few days ago, I was talking with a friend about our families getting together for dinner. There is something special about sharing a meal. Acts 20:7 says:

On the first day of the week, when we were gathered together to break bread, Paul talked with them, intending to depart on the next day, and he prolonged his speech until midnight. (Acts 20:7 ESV)

This passage is often used to promote “Sunday worship” or even preaching, but according to this passage, the believers in Troas had gathered together for the purpose of “breaking bread”. This phrase “breaking bread” usually indicates the start of a meal (see “The Lord’s Supper as a Meal?“). Perhaps, this indicates that the believers in Troas were partaking of the elements of the Lord’s Supper, but if they were, it seems that it was part of a larger meal.

There is something special about meals. Meals can be used to separate people by having rigid protocols and seating and speaking assignments based on position or rank. This kind of meal – the kind that separates people – is not the kind that I’m talking about here. Fortunately, meals can also be used to bring people together, sharing in common what God has provided, speaking and listening as each one expresses their struggles, their hopes, and what God is doing in their lives.

Sharing a meal can be like sharing a part of yourself. For this reason – and many others – I enjoy sharing a meal with people. Our church shares a meal together about once a month. During these times I’m able to take time to talk with people that I don’t normally see throughout the week. I’m able to get to know people that I don’t know very well. I have a chance to interact with more people on a more personal level.

But, that’s not often enough for me. We try to share meals with friends more often than this. Sometimes, we’ll go to a restaurant with friends even when we shouldn’t financially (yes, we’re working on self-control in this area). We’ve learned to open up our home more often and provide meals for people more often. Sometimes, when we take meals to people who are in need, we ask if we can stay and share the meal with them. Why? Because the food is not the most important part of sharing a meal. Instead, the most important part is sharing of yourselves – the fellowship.

In fact, we’ve found that the food has very little to do with a successful “meal”. We have shared steaks with people, and we have shared sandwiches with people. We have eaten soup with friends, and we have eaten ribs with friends. The content of the meal is not as important as the fellowship involved – the words, the concern, the encouragement, the admonishment, the joy, the sorrow, the pain, the hope. The meal is simply the context for the fellowship that the Spirit is producing.

I have also found that sharing a meal is great therapy for self-centeredness, selfishness, and even discouragement. Of course, during times of self-centeredness, selfishness, and discouragement, preparing a meal and inviting someone to your house may be the last thing on your mind – which is exactly why you should do it.

I’m looking forward to getting together with my friends soon. I’m sure that the food will be very good. However, I know that the fellowship that God provides will be even more nourishing and satisfying. Have you shared a meal lately?


3 Comments

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  1. 10-1-2007

    Alan,

    I love sharing a meal with people. I’ve come to the conclusion that sharing a meal and then playing games afterward are a much better way of getting to know people than a quick handshake and a 5-second “How are you?” “Fine, and you?” “Fine.” conversation on Sunday morning.

  2. 10-1-2007

    In our culture, the hospitality of actually taking the time to cook for someone is a concrete display of God’s love.

    We’re a heat-and-serve culture, and I think it shows up in how we “do” church.

  3. 10-1-2007

    Mary,

    I agree. I think some are happy with “5-second fellowship” because they don’t recognize fellowship and relationship as part of the reason for us gathering together.

    David,

    Yes! I love that comparison of our “heat-and-serve” (and fast food) culture with the church. We want everything prepared and packaged for us. We don’t want to take the time to cook, much less to build relationships!

    -Alan