By Jen Gillan
“Feast well.” That was what my friend posted on my facebook wall for my birthday. “Feast well,” I kept thinking to myself that day and laughed with my husband that “feast well” is one of the most fitting ways to express “happy birthday” from one pastor to another.
Feasting language is part of my regular vocabulary that I use as a pastor when I lead communion – “This is the joyful feast for the people of God,” or “This is the Lord’s Table,” or “Sisters and brothers, this is food for the journey…”
So throughout the day of my birthday and in the celebrations that followed, I kept remembering this idea to enter into my feast-day and to do it with gusto. And that I did! From a savory and decadent birthday dinner with my husband, to French toast, fruit, and mimosas around a coffee table with girlfriends, to pizza and wine around another table with another set of dear life-companions, I didn’t mess around with feasting for my birthday this year!
I’m convinced that Christians should be people who don’t mess around with feasting. We should be a people that love to party. I’m not talking about fluffy gatherings of people and the most expensive food. I’m talking about times shared around tables in a deep and meaningful way with persons who have stories to share and hearts and minds to engage with. Old friends and new friends. And around tables with good, simple, and hearty food that invite us to gather and linger, to laugh and share, to know and be known. To feast with one another.
There has been a lot of good stuff written about feasting, but where many of these authors draw from is in the simple meal of bread and wine that Jesus calls his followers to regularly share with one another. Call it Holy Communion, the Lord’s Supper, the Eucharist or Great Thanksgiving, or the Agape (love) Feast, it is truly a most sacred and joyous meal. When we come to the Table, I believe we find that it invites us into the practice of actually feasting with one another – of opening our homes, stretching out our tables, busting out the fine china and wine (or Trader Joe’s three buck chuck!), in order that we might taste and share the goodness of being nourished by God’s gifts to us of food and friendship, of grace and love. It is in those moments that the presence of Jesus is often made known, and in those meals that we once again embody our anticipation of that future, glorious banquet that God is preparing and that all have been invited to.
So, feast well, church, in the simplest, most ordinary of meals to the special, perhaps, more indulgent ones. God is present every time we break bread with one another.