Feast Well

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.

 

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  8 comments for “Feast Well

  1. October 20, 2014 at 4:45 pm

    Lovely reflection on the sacramental view of ordinary mealtimes, as well as the sacramental life we live in Christ. Of course, the flip side that makes the holy feast/harvest all the richer is the holy and regular practice of fasting/pruning. How to bring these two holy practices into our ordinary lives is a key to deepening our life in Christ together (in my opinion). Many blessings

    • jengillan
      October 20, 2014 at 8:13 pm

      Thank you! I really appreciate that you brought up the important point that there is a complementary rhythm to feasting – fasting. Both have a place in the Christian life, and even a place in being whole and healthy.

  2. Michelle
    October 23, 2014 at 4:55 pm

    Jen – thanks for your post! Often when we think of feasting, we only think of the special, high holiday meals. Yesterday in class, I had students describe the differences between a Thanksgiving meal, a family dinner, and Tuesday lunches. It’s obvious how the Thanksgiving meal relates to communion, but the more we talked the more clear how the regular lunches (daily provision) connects intimately with communion as well. In fact we got into a discussion about the importance of those regular down times, Tuesday lunch with friends, help us reframing communion only as the high, sacred moment and think about how we NEED it every day – God’s food for the journey. Yes it’s special and yes it’s necessary!

    • jengillan
      October 24, 2014 at 3:33 pm

      Thanks, Michelle!

  3. October 29, 2014 at 2:31 pm

    I just “feasted” through my birthday as well. I’m glad that I don’t feel as old as I really am.

    I grew up in a community of faith where the ritual of communion was carried out every first sunday of the month. It was sterile, efficient and as predictable as clockwork. Often the minister would use a poignant story to contrive emotion or create interest. Yes. I sound jaded because I was.

    However, the understanding of the presence of God in this sacramental moment, along with the recognition of, as you say, feasting, has made this moment of Eucharist a blessed and beautiful celebration for me. What joy to feast with family and friends as a community of faith.

    • jengillan
      November 14, 2014 at 2:13 pm

      Agreed, Jill. There’s a lot of joy to be found in feasting with our friends and family of faith around the sacred meal of Holy Communion.

  4. Cathy Norman Peterson
    November 8, 2014 at 7:53 am

    Like Jill, in my early life, I was much better at asceticism than feasting. So now I especially appreciate good feasting in the context of my local church. Once I visited a church that served a full hot lunch every Sunday after worship. We ate homemade Mexican food on paper plates and were in awe.

    • jengillan
      November 14, 2014 at 2:11 pm

      Love that image, Cathy – a simple, yet glorious Mexican feast. Amen to that!

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