When I first arrived at my vicarage congregation for a visit before moving there, there was a questionnaire that I filled out to help the congregation get to know me. Favorite movies, hobbies, Bible verses were among those. One of the questions, the only one in fact that was in the negative asked if there were any foods I did not like or were allergic to. I answered honestly. No allergies, and there is only one food I do not like like… meatloaf of course. That place where meat believes that it can be bread is I place I do not want to visit.
When I did arrive and was installed as the vicar I went down to the fellowship hall for a meal… because, how else do we celebrate anything? The main dish? Everyone had brought their own homemade meatloaf recipe. Because it was on my list and they wanted to make me happy! See maybe they were not sure what a gyro sandwich was, or how to make one and they just remembered that meatloaf was on the list so they went with that… and no one figured it out… ever. I got into line and made the best of it trying bites of everyone’s own perfected bread meat creation.
I felt good about how it went, some of them even not so bad. At least it was over. Until I first went to a family’s home for dinner, one of the elders, his wife wasn’t sure if I had gotten to try her meatloaf at the potluck so she made it especially for me. Four dinners in a row with members went exactly like this.
It’s a silly story but the point is that food is something we use as a marker for something significant. Food is how we settle differences or make good impressions on others. These wonderful people that I came to appreciate like family were just trying to welcome me, and I think God was teaching me a lesson along the way.
Food makes up 5 ⅓ trillion dollars of our economy. Food spending per household outpaces inflation. Americans surveyed would rather eat than any other recreational activity on the whole.
I think this all makes sense, doesn’t it? Think of your last major event? I bet you can remember what you had to eat. Maybe even faster than who was there or how it went. Just really quickly I can tell you that men of Grace had pancakes, fresh fruit, donuts, and breakfast casserole yesterday, Alissa and I had turkey and ham at easter. Asks We had pizza on Christmas, at the airport after church. Thanksgiving I had the most wonderful mashed potatoes from scratch, the day that Alissa and I came to find a place to live after accepting the call, we visited one day during VBS and they were having nachos that day. We had chicken at my college graduation and burgers at my grad school graduation party. And on and on.
We use food to mark significant events. Food at holidays, food at weddings, food at funerals… ham and turkey with rolls baby potatoes, and a summer strawberry salad at the last Grace funeral, as I recall, and seafood at the last wedding I did here.
What’s neat about food is that it touches our senses. It has a texture, a smell, a visual allure, some foods even have a sound as we prepare or chew. Food makes us think. Food can take us to cultures around the world without leaving our table. In our text today, Jesus eats for the first time since The Last Supper.
Our text this morning is another account of the same text from last week where we encountered doubting thomas. This week in this account we still see the disciples seeing and touching and hearing the resurrected Jesus, but we get this additional detail as Jesus asks for something to eat. Let’s zoom out… the same disciples are hiding in a locked room jesus appears and speaks with them and some do not believe, he lets them touch him, they do not believe, then when he sees that seeing hearing and touching aren’t enough senses involved he invites them to have a meal as he asks for something to eat. Here in this meal they come together again as family. Now the disciples are convinced in the truth. It is interesting that in this account all of them doubt and in the other only Thomas gets a bad wrap by that’s another sermon for another day.
In many of our upcoming Easter season exits we see jesus eating. This works a twofold purpose first he adds I. Another proof another sense into the proof of his resurrection and secondly Now that he is risen relationship is restored. Today we are perfectly set up to come to a meal that he has also prepared in communion. Here he invites us all to become family at the table of his sacrifice. Here we have no one to impress no one to reconcile with, and it isn’t even meatloaf. Here he gets the whole family- the whole company of heaven throughout eternity together at this place where in the eating and drinking our sins are forgiven and we are his and he is ours forever and ever amen.