My parents came in to visit last weekend. I had not seen them since January, and they had not yet had a chance to visit Birmingham since I moved here, so it was a real joy to get to visit with them for a few days. We toured the sights, laughed over old stories and new ones, and most of all, we ate good food while talking about other good food, which is something of a Holsteen tradition. One of the consequences of their visit is that I am somewhat behind on schoolwork, and that this blog post will be somewhat shorter than usual this week. (Mom, if you’re reading this, yes I am getting enough sleep and completing all my assignments. I just procrastinated them. A bit.)
Anyway, as we ate our various excellent meals last weekend, I was reminded of the centrality of eating and drinking to the timeline of redemption. We eat every day, and more often than not we do it thoughtlessly and thanklessly. But the meals we eat, especially those we eat at the table of fellowship with beloved friends and family, ought to remind us of the whole narrative arc of scripture.
The story of the Bible is a story of food and drink. The first Adam fell by an illicit food. The second Adam redeemed us by dining with sinners and draining a full cup. We remember our redemption and are strengthened in our faith by a meal of broken body and shed blood. We look forward to a meal of rich food and well-aged wine in the last day, when we shall dine with our God face to face. To put it differently, the essence of the Fall is mankind’s dining-apart-from God, and the essence of redemption is God’s dining-together-with man.
There is profound power, then, in shared dining. It is difficult to share a table--especially a well-furnished table--and keep a grudge. It is difficult to share a meal with loved ones and not find one’s heart lightened and one’s burdens eased, precisely because even the most ordinary and mundane of meals when shared at the table of fellowship points to the heavenly meal for which we wait with eager longing.
Therefore my encouragement in this brief post is this: let the daily mundaneness of dining orient your heart toward the age to come. Eat with family and friends with gladness and gratitude. Pray before your meals not thoughtlessly, but with careful attention to the reconciling gift of Christ and the reconciling gift of good food to share with others. Tell old stories and new ones around the table, throw back your head and laugh, and rejoice in the presence of the God who will host the perfect feast with all his people in the last day.