Friday, October 09, 2009

ways into small missional community [7] eating, drinking together

Here's my latest post re creating community:

Interesting things can happen when people eat and drink together.

Some of the most memorable stories left to us in the gospels from the life, death and resurrection of Jesus happen when food and drink are being shared. A woman anoints Jesus with her tears when he is at table. A life-changing conversation with Zachaeus takes place in the context of hospitality. Jesus bids farewell to his followers in the setting of a shared meal. The disciples at Emmaus recognise Jesus in the breaking and blessing of bread. And an early morning breakfast on the beach is hosted by the same risen Christ.

Interesting things can happen when people eat and drink together. Our common humanity becomes more apparent. Differences diminish. Neighbours and strangers find a place of belonging. Community can deepen. So if we are interested in starting or sustaining a new project-community in the way of Jesus it is worth imagining the place of eating and/or drinking together.

Any pattern of eating and drinking needs to be true to our setting and reflect our culture. An example from experience: from the start of its life the community of which I have been part for 5 years has centred its life on a simple community meal in someone's home each week. And each weekend the eucharist is followed by a visit to cafe or pub. The community's life and mission happen in the context of food and drink, in ways that fit the city setting and the life-patterns of the people.

Inspired by the practise of Jesus, what might be the place of shared eating and/or drinking in your community?

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

oh, why is this so difficult for me. I've begun to just avoid those meetings that are going to involve a meal, I don't have the cash to bring anything nice, and don't know how to get a conversation going. these 'shared meals' seem to involve a lot of hanging around, with one person getting very stressi, and I just feel cold, tired, hungry and lonely

it pushes me closer to my existential angst

so, sorry, can't agree that shared meals automatically build community, without the love and welcome needed these things are a nightmare

admittedly, there more tricky if your partner suffers from mental health stuff. if they come, you watch them slip into dispare, if they don't you feel guilty at leaving them.

Ian Adams said...

hi friend, many thanks for this, and thank you for sharing some tough stuff.

I agree, sharing food and drink doesn't automatically build community. There is something potentially very liberating in eating and drinking with others, but you're so right that the wider context of acceptance and welcome is vital. Shared eating and drinking also needs to be accompanied by shared preparation and shared clearing up.

And the situation you write about re mental health issues is doubly tough. I hope that professional accompaniment is being found in this area.

Peace to you today Ian

Anonymous said...

thanks Ian. I do think your work on small m communities is very relevant to church in our culture

sadly the mental health stuffs is tough, lots of church folk are happy to dive in with ideas about inner healing, which is good because my partner gets people to pray with and chat to