Yesterday was one of those encouraging days that involved eating for Jesus.
I started at a cafe in Surbiton. It's the sort of establishment that attracts a strange mix of clientele. There were besuited young executives pausing to stock up on energy for a day in the city, as well as local builders getting a solid "English" down them before the hard labour began. There is a novel begging to be written about their desperate lives brought together by a love of a more tradition British start to the day.
I was there to read Jeremiah 5 with a bloke before he went to work. It's a pretty brutal chapter of the Bible, but we were humbled to think of the seriousness of our sin and therefore the depth of God's love for us at the cross of Christ. I also tucked into a great sausage sandwich (it took me almost as long to calculate the way to get the best value out of the menu as we then spent studying the Bible!). We chewed over life together as my cholesterol went up and rejoiced the we were certain of our home in heaven.
I'd arranged to meet a colleague for lunch to share a bit of life together. One of the odd things about working for a church is that sometimes we're not very good at ministering to one another. Meetings revolve around other people's struggles and joys, not our own. So we went to a pub in Claygate. Being Surrey there was a menu of mouth watering items at eye watering prices! As we ordered our baguettes I checked that the accompanying portion of fries was a real "portion", not just a token offering. The girl serving us, clearly more concerned by my girth than her profit margins, assured me that I didn't need to order any more. She was right.
As we ate we chatted about a bit of life history, God's goodness to us over the years and our need to look to Christ as our joy and our hope and our strength today. We prayed and I left full of encouragement and chipped potatoes!
Finally, my wife and I had been asked out by a couple from church. Before we went in I fired up a quick prayer that we'd have a mutually encouraging evening, speaking much of Jesus. Not a usual habit of mine sadly.
They proved fantastic hosts. Relaxed, open, chatty. The grub was great. I was determined not to have seconds due to the amount of fellowship that I had tucked into during the day! However, I succumbed to another portion of sticky toffee pudding. It would have been criminal not to.
God was on the agenda, along with the garden, curling, politics, life history, the Lake District and Wales. As the evening drew to a close the conversation went deeper and warmer as we talked about the battle to pray and the need to spend time with the Lord. We returned home spiritually refreshed and physically exhausted. A great way to end the day.
Throughout the Bible God's people enjoy food together in his presence. In Exodus after the Lord has made a covenant with the Israelites, we read that the leaders went up the mountain and had grub with God.
"...they saw God, and they ate and drank." (Exodus 24:11)
When David pictures the final destination with the Lord, he describes it as a banquet prepared for him by God, enjoyed in His presence.
You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
Surely your goodness and love will follow me
all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord
forever. (Psalm 23:5-6)
And when the Lord Jesus pictures what will happen to his servants when he returns he says.
"It will be good for those servants whose master finds them watching when he comes. Truly I tell you, he will dress himself to serve, will have them recline at the table and will come and wait on them." (Luke 12:37)
Throughout the Bible relationship with God and His people and food have gone together. So the early church "...broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts..." (Acts 2:46).
I'm very glad about that. But I think a bit more portion control and exercise might be needed as a result!