The seasons of Thanksgiving and Christmas have much to do with eating. They revolve around the table of good food and good fellowship, celebrating family, one in the larger circle, the other more intimately. As I ponder these two festivals, something I read recently in Gordon T. Smith’s book A Holy Meal (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2005) came to mind. He talks about how important eating and drinking are in describing our relationship with God. The Bible even likens the act of eating to the act of faith. Beyond this in the middle east, having a meal together is a sacred thing, where the guest comes under the protection of the host and one who has eaten with another cannot betray his table-mate. This season we celebrate the many good gifts God has given us. We also celebrate God coming to earth as a child to be with us, one of us. For Jesus, eating was an integral part of his ministry. Smith observes, “Jesus ate with his followers, with his friends, and with outcasts. It was so much a part of his ministry and his life that one almost gets the sense that when he wasn’t preaching and teaching he was eating. In so doing, he was identifying with the ancient Jewish practice of meal fellowship.” (p.14) This eating together then culminated in the Lord’s supper right before His crucifixion and then was glorified in the meals He had with His disciples after His resurrection. This was right and good.
Therefore, perhaps one of the best times to celebrate the Lord’s Supper is now, at Christmastime. We remember Immanuel, God with us. We fellowship with Him and with one another. The Jews set a place for Elijah at their Sabbath meals. Perhaps we Christians should set a place for Jesus at our Christmas meals, too, remembering that we are celebrating Him and the fellowship we have with Him. And this fellowship with Him should be extended to our family and friends who eat with us in celebration of His first advent upon this earth while expecting His second coming in glory and in power.
Image Credit: Christmas dinner in Poland. wikipedia.org