“…The words I was reaching for, of course, were the words of grace. But the conversations at the table unfurled like a snail amid the happy clatter of silver…I realized that in this particular case words of grace were unnecessary. Why? Because that’s what the meal itself had become, for me certainly, but I suspect for some of the others, too: a wordless way of saying grace.
-p 407, The Omnivore’s Dilemma, Michael Pollan (a great read, totally worth the investment of time)
Eating and I get along very well, thank you very much. A great meal shared with friends or family ranks high on the list of best ways to spend an evening. I like that two of the stories surrounding the events of Holy Week find Jesus at a table, eating with his friends. Before Palm Sunday, he eats with Mary and Martha and Lazarus, and they are friends who have had their lives utterly transformed by Jesus. He raised Lazarus from the dead. Their home is a place of celebration, of safety. Jesus receives worship as God in their home, but he receives hospitality as a friend. That picture strikes me as profound and beautiful.
The Last Supper must have been emotionally charged for Jesus, who knew precisely what was happening with the awareness that his very best friends would be unable to understand until later. So he broke bread and dipped it in a cup with the hope that the symbols would carry them from Friday until Sunday and then open their eyes wider and wider as the post-resurrection kingdom was handed to doubters and betrayers whose love looked feebly human. Jesus is profoundly simple with them, and the symbols continue to carry us today.
We eat bread and drink wine and laugh with friends and share with neighbors, and we experience the good stuff of life in simplicity. When we do those things, a bit of intentionality can take us back a couple of thousand years to a God who was man sitting and eating with his friends. I am amazed at the compassion of Jesus. He used something so common, so necessary to reveal his ways. He is good. All is grace.