I sat at the big, round table for my first authentic international dining experience. On the spot. In Asia.
Huge plates and bowls were delivered energetically by the server, filled with colorful vegetables, odd-shaped noodles, spicy meats, lots of sticky, white rice … and a fish. The whole thing. Looked like it had just been pulled from the pond.
It was dead and cooked, but I didn’t doubt it was swimming unsuspectingly just 20 minutes ago, before the chef’s assistant invited it for dinner.
As they proudly described these dishes, these new friends began giggling at what appeared to be an inside joke. Then it came out. It was their custom that rookies must eat the eye of the fish. So I did.
It wasn’t as gross as I thought it would be, really. Much chewier. It didn’t pop in my mouth and had more of the texture of a raisin, thankfully. And it tasted like, well, fish.
But I don’t think I’d eat one again. Unless I make another trip and eat with these friends, then I would. Because eating together brings people together.
When the Bible describes the meaningful faith activities of the early Christians, it says, “They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts” (Acts 2:46).
A growing trend in church culture today is “dinner churches.” There’s even a church in Kentucky named Potluck Church. They passionately preach (and practice) how Jesus ministered to many people around the table at wedding feasts, for instance, or dinners in a home. He instituted Holy Communion around a meal and talked about our feast in heaven.
Eating and drinking, like Jesus did, deepens our belief that people who live on different continents, or in different areas of the city, or with different worldview can come together. And Jesus is with us. He blesses us. He extends mercy and grace to those who are hungry and thirsty to eat and drink with each other, and him.
Make plans to meet up with someone you need to forgive, someone whose opinion has conflicted with yours, someone lonely or underprivileged, someone who needs Jesus—and invite them to a meal.
Be assured, Jesus “the Bread of Life” will be there, too. “Come, Lord Jesus, be our guest.”
PRAYER: Dear Jesus, you gathered people together over meals, and there your kingdom came, your love poured out, and you satisfied souls with your teaching. Be present at my table, too, and help me reach out to others. Amen.
FURTHER MEDITATION: Bible exploration—Name at least 3 true stories in the gospels where Jesus heals, forgives, or teaches around a meal. Meditate on them, and prayerfully prepare to tell about one of them at your next meal with friends, family or a special someone.