By Sigrid Fowler
All writers in Op Ed are here to inform and acknowledge issues of importance to our communities, however these writings represent the views and opinions of the authors and not necessarily of The Advertiser.
Praying the familiar Lord’s Prayer, we first remind ourselves of the holiness of God’s name. Then we petition the Father to bring in his kingdom. From there, Jesus takes us right to everyday needs: “Give us this day our daily bread.”As a person who has cooked fifty years for family membersand a few just for myself, I tend to notice food and references to it. It occurred to me at one point that the fruits and vegetables we eat are amazing—beautiful, fragrant or enticing to smell and good-tasting when cooked with care. We have to eat to live, but the Creator didn’t have to make the process so enjoyable or so aesthetically pleasing. I spent some time years ago learning from a Japanese friend her recipes and skills. Ididn’t become proficient, but one thing I’ll never forget–thefirst impression of a Japanese meal as a feast for the eyes, a sight that was delightful even before a diner tasted anything. Food is beautiful and the Japanese are marvelously aware of it.
Something else about the daily food Jesus tells us to ask for: It doesn’t just happen. Food has to be grown, conveyed to market, purchased and prepared. If all this happens in a restaurant, we lose awareness of the raw materials and processes. But preparing food or watching others prepare it in a home kitchen turns the daily necessity of eating into something worth thinking about. Food isn’t to be taken for granted. The food we must have simply to live seems rather marvelous. For many in the world, the lack of food is a harsh reality! For the malnourished or hungry, food must seem like riches.
Many psalms include food and eating details. David says in Psalm 23, “You prepare a table before me / In the presence of my enemies . . . My cup runs over” (parts of v. 5). In Psalm 147, we find these verses: “Sing to the LORD with thanksgiving; / Make music on the harp to our God, / Who covers the sky with clouds, / Who prepares rain for the earth, / Who makes grass to grow on the hills. / He provides food for the animals, / And for the young ravens when they call” (vv. 7-9). Food is an important part of the connection we have with our Creator, the Lord supplies the food his creation needs.And consider all the different ways humans create appealing dishes from the edible resources we have. Consider too, how God inspires many who have food to be concerned and active in all sorts of efforts to supply the needs of those who don’thave it. Food creates human connections in many ways—from table fellowship to hunger drives, from advanced degrees in nutrition to the ingenuity of mothers who must exercise creativity to entice their picky little eaters even to look at that plate.
Worship and feasting are intertwined in the Bible. The feasts of Israel involved sacrifice, the best animals of flock or herd, and many of the sacrifices became a feast. The priests and Levites had their share, but the worshiper who broughtdoves or a lamb or goat or ox also took away meat for thefamily feast. Food is included in many biblical passages.Israel is compared to a vineyard (Isa 5). Jesus’ Parable of the Sower ends with the abundant grain seeds sown on good soil produce. At worship on Sunday, we celebrated Communion. We remembered that Jesus took bread, broke it and said, “This is my body, broken for you.”
When we celebrate Communion, we remember Jesus’ mighty work on the cross–his suffering, his sinlessness, and our own need for the atonement he accomplished. But the Eucharist—the word means “thanksgiving”—is also a joyful time. We think of how God provides, protects, and guides us. We think of “the joy set before him”—a joy so great that Jesus would “endure the cross, despising the shame” (Heb 12: 2). We celebrate in gratitude, but also in anticipation of sharing the joy. He told his disciples during that final supper, “I have told you these things so that my joy may be in you and your joy may be complete” (John 15: 11). One of the joys of heaven is described as a feast the Bible calls “the marriage supper of the Lamb” (Rev 19: 9). When we think of the range of human pursuits, the time we spend on many things, foodseems rather mundane and ordinary. But in his short prayer,only a few verses (Matt 6: 9-13; Luke 11: 2-4), Jesus includes daily food as a legitimate prayer concern. To share food is to share life, something he did for everyone who invites him in.