Boy, did we feast! Neal Nation had an amazing time with our extended family as we celebrated Thanksgiving together. I hope you were able to be around family and friends, and were able to remember just how fortunate we all are!
There was a moment during Thanksgiving dinner where our family paused and shared some of the things we were thankful for in 2018. I took the opportunity to take in my surroundings. As I looked at those around the table, I saw joy, love and contentment. Of course, I also saw faces stuffed with turkey eagerly awaiting for the “sharing time” to conclude so the eating could continue.
This got me thinking about eating, and not just because I was hungry, because I was definitely hungry. I thought about how fortunate we were to be eating and feasting all together at the same time. How, after dinner’s conclusion, 17 adults plus children would have all eaten at one time and would leave totally full and content. In a global context this is a huge deal. Not everywhere in the world is our abundance of food, peace and security even possible.
This then led me to think spiritually. Every Sunday, when the body of Christ gathers, we feast spiritually together as a family. We walk into a place of worship and grab coffee, chatting about the week with a spiritual family we haven’t seen in awhile. We take our seats and hear about what’s next on the family calendar. We sing together, as our hearts and minds are aligned to the mission and truth of our Father. We give a portion of our resources back, not out of obligation, but out of love for our home: God’s kingdom in our community. We hear scripture proclaimed, remembering the words and truth written by authors who lived long before us, and who were inspired by the Holy Spirit. Then we hear and experience the comfort and/or challenge of a sermon. Spoken by our pastor to encourage and change us. Family, that’s a feast.
I love the story of Jesus providing a feast for the five thousand (Matthew 14). Way before Golden Corral was a thing, Jesus was providing all-you-can-eat buffets! Here are a couple of things I found fascinating about the story.
First, Jesus fed everyone present. Everyone. Everyone that wanted to eat, ate. I think it’s safe to assume that in a crowd of 5000 people (not including women and children), not everyone was pro-Jesus. I’m sure among the crowd of Jesus fans were skeptics, opportunists, and even enemies. I’m also sure that there were those who did not have an opinion on Jesus at all. They simply saw a crowd, became curious, and wham, next thing they knew free lunch! Jesus simply fed those who were present and hungry. There were no stipulations, no transactions, no strings. He freely gave what he had.
A second thing I find interesting about this story was there were leftovers! During this massive feast where everyone ate and were satisfied (Matthew 14:20), there was more than enough food. Could you imagine being a disciple on that day? Seeing the miracle and then storing up even more of the miracle for later? Matthew writes that the disciples collected 12 baskets full!
So indulge me for a moment and think about these questions…..
What if we gathered every Sunday, every worship opportunity, as a family-style, Thanksgiving-esque feast? The Apostle Paul surely thought we should (Galatians 6:10, 1 Corinthians 12:26, Romans 12:5, Ephesians 2:19). What if corporate worship wasn’t something we simply showed up to, but was something we participated in. Anticipating the feast, the fun and the family!
What if we feasted (worshipped) as if we knew where the feast was truly coming from (Jesus)? If you are new to Christianity and your faith in Jesus, please know that Sunday worship opportunities are opportunities to feast with the King! And He throws a mean feast! There are no stipulations or strings attached when it comes to this feast. Everyone is welcome and invited to eat freely until satisfaction! Don’t leave hungry. Jesus feeds everyone.
What if we disciples, those who have eaten often with Jesus, started to pick up the leftovers for later? After we have feasted with the family, we who are farther along in our journey with Christ, find those pieces of nourishment to share with others throughout the week. As we leave worship, feeling fed, we think about who else we could share the sermon’s wisdom with. We might hear a story of encouragement from a brother and sister and we strategize about how to bring it up in conversation with the coworker we have been praying for on Monday. What if during our time of singing, we write down a verse and send to a friend who is struggling, to show them that we miss them, love them and in our time of worship we were thinking of them? The disciples ate with the 5000 that day. They also went a step further to collect the leftovers.
As Sunday comes, look forward to seeing family. Come hungry because Jesus always busts out the buffet! And with Jesus, there is always way more than enough. It’s up to us to share what he gives.