Christmas: Eat, Drink and be Merry

eatdrinkmerryAdvent Day 14

Vanity of Vanities cries the Preacher. All is meaningless. The book of Ecclesiastes feels very apt for our time. Everything can feel like a toil and a meaningless toil at that. The solution would seem to be:

Behold, what I have seen to be good and fitting is to eat and drink and find enjoyment in all the toil with which one toils under the sun the few days of his life that God has given him, for this is his lot. (Ecclesiastes 5:18 ESV)

Just eat, drink and be merry because tomorrow we die. Christmas is a time to be merry and eat lots of food until you are stuffed like a Turkey. It would seem we partly do this because there is no meaning in life and life itself is very short and slipping away so we should get on and enjoy ourselves and yet even this in itself is a vanity. The preacher then goes on to say that death is meaningless:

In my vain life I have seen everything. There is a righteous man who perishes in his righteousness, and there is a wicked man who prolongs his life in his evildoing. (Ecclesiastes 7:15 ESV)

It is the same for all, since the same event happens to the righteous and the wicked, to the good and the evil, to the clean and the unclean, to him who sacrifices and him who does not sacrifice. As the good one is, so is the sinner, and he who swears is as he who shuns an oath. (Ecclesiastes 9:2 ESV)

It seems even if a righteous man dies, it is meaningless. Death happens to everyone and it feels empty and meaningless.

At Christmas we celebrate the birth of a baby that was destined to die. The Son of God, a righteous man was born to die. It would seem hopeless and meaningless. As they laid him in the tomb did they whisper “Vanity of Vanities”?

But, he didn’t stay dead. He rose to life and as he burst through death ripping out its sting, he came alive with all hope and meaning. No longer is life a vanity. No longer is life about eating and drinking to escape some meaningless reality or because tomorrow we die. Instead life is about resurrection. And because of resurrection we can now eat and drink and be merry for the hope and life we have before us.

Christmas is about the one who will  be resurrected, so that we can eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow we live!

The Breaking of Bread

So, I have a question which has been burning in my mind ever since I was a young Christian and its been raised again when I read “A meal with Jesus” by Tim Chester. My question is about communion/breaking of bread. I want to know why we do it so differently to how Jesus did it and how the apostles and churches in Acts did it? You may think I am crazy, but I am reading the times when the people came to the Lords supper/communion/breaking of bread and it certainly isn’t the way we do it in church.

Lets have a look at how they broke bread:

Jesus and the disciples:

So at the last supper Jesus was celebrating the passover meal and we know from Exodus that they would have been eating lamb and unleavened bread:

“Tell the whole community of Israel that on the tenth day of this month each man is to take a lamb for his family, one for each household. 4 If any household is too small for a whole lamb, they must share one with their nearest neighbor, having taken into account the number of people there are…6Take care of them until the fourteenth day of the month, when all the members of the community of Israel must slaughter them at twilight…That same night they are to eat the meat roasted over the fire, along with bitter herbs, and bread made without yeast.” Exodus 12:3-8

Then came the day of Unleavened Bread on which the Passover lamb had to be sacrificed…. When the hour came, Jesus and his apostles reclined at the table. – Luke 22:7&14

Ok so Jesus was eating the passover lamb and also the bread and drinking wine and they were also sitting at a table. It was a meal. So ok, the passover lamb is Jesus and that means we no longer need to slaughter a lamb because the sacrifice has been made. However It is strange how we no longer sit at a table and eat a meal together. Instead we pass around small squares of bread and a cup of wine that you can only have a sip of. Strange, I dont think I would call that a meal.

Ok what about the early church?
Well one example I want to look at is Paul rebuking the Corinthians about the Lords supper. He says:

So then, when you come together, it is not the Lord’s Supper you eat, 21 for when you are eating, some of you go ahead with your own private suppers. As a result, one person remains hungry and another gets drunk…So then, my brothers and sisters, when you gather to eat, you should all eat together.- 1 Corinthians 11:20-33

Now when I read that, those Corinthians were getting rebuked for eating way too much and drinking too much wine which resulted in some not getting any food and going hungry and others getting drunk. There is no way they could do any of this from a slice of bread and a sip or thimble size glass of wine!! It must mean they had a real meal with real food. And Paul doesn’t say stop eating a meal together but he says to wait so everyone can eat together.

It’s odd how we have changed this so much! Why don’t we for the Lords supper gather around a table and eat good food and drink good wine (or grape juice) and then break bread and take the wine in remembrance of what Christ has done on the Cross? Think of the context that this would be in: family together, cultures together, rich and poor side by side eating, laughing, enjoying conversation, enjoying food the Lord has made and rejoicing in what Christ has done. Not only does this meal point back to what Jesus has done but it also points forward to this:

“Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!” – Revelation 19:9

There is going to be a wedding and a wedding supper! There is going to be a feast, with eating! And I think that possibly means there will be more food then a slice of bread and thimble of wine and we wont stand in rows and not talk to each other… don’t you think?

It seems what we do now is no supper at all. Which is odd because we talk a lot about how Christianity is relational and not religious, however the way we do communion isnt exactly relational but comes across very religious. Therefore people who are not Christians will gaze on this and think that this is just a religious thing we do. But if we had a meal together which is very relational, they would see the warmth, the joy, the giving to the poor, the acceptance of all people who are in Christ and they will not see anything religious in it but they will see something very loving and Christ like!

So why don’t we eat together? Even if your church is 500, then break into smaller groups and enjoy a meal and fellowship and rejoice at what the Lord has done for you. Considering the “Son of man came eating and drinking” it seems strange that his bride does not do the same!

Collection of Webs (8)

Here is an amazing story of a student of mine. Its his blog and you have to start at the beginning and its worth it. To be honest I have never seen a young man with so much faith and love for Christ after what he has been through. When I speak to him I am encouraged and also humbled by his faith in Jesus.

I am amazed that this guy is still standing…

Vicky Beeching asks a really good question. I quite like her blog – it makes me think and she isn’t afraid to ask questions.

I enjoyed this video from Mark Driscoll about chip (crisps) it made me laugh:

 

Delights of Cooking

Jesus didn’t run projects, establish ministries, create programmes or put on events. He ate meals. – Tim Chester, A Meal with Jesus.

One of my favourite things to do is to try to cook new recipes! There is always the excitement of how its going to turn out and whether it’s just going to be a mushy mess! So the other week we had a meal time at homegroup where we all cooked something and displayed it on the table to eat!

But what was I going to cook? Well I had recently purchased Jamie Oliver’s new recipe book, which I love and I am a huge fan of Jamie Oliver! He makes cooking look like messy art. Anyways, I tried cooking the side dish of Cheesy Leeks… yum. I took some pictures of the process that makes this wonderful dish, however I was in a total rush at the end and forgot to take a picture of the end product. Fail. However it did taste rather nice and it was great to share a meal with my homegroup!

Currently Reading: A meal with Jesus

This is what I am reading at the moment.

Its brilliant. Here are some quotes:

 

Simon’s attitude to this woman exposes his heart.  It’s always like that.  ’Difficult’ people have a habit of exposing our hearts… Whenever we look down on someone for being smelly or disorganised or lazy or emotional or promiscuous or socially inept or bitter, then we’re like graceless Simon.  And if we look down on people for not understanding grace, then we are like graceless Simon.  If you’re thinking about how this applies to someone else, then you’re like Simon.  Jesus says to us, ‘If you look down on others, you love little, because you understand so little of your sin and my grace.’

Tim Chester, on Luke 7 (from ‘A Meal With Jesus’)

Church leaders are family leaders and must prove their ability to manage their own households before they can manage the household of God.  One of the requirements for elders is that they must be ‘hospitable’ (1 Timothy 3:2, Titus 1:8, see Romans 16:23).  Consider that many requirements churches typically lay down for leaders (like a theology degree) are not required by Paul in 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1.  But what Paul does require is that they be hospitable.  Perhaps this was because church meetings were family meals.  How could you lead a meal-meeting if you weren’t hospitable?  How could you extend the generous welcome of the gospel if you didn’t welcome people into your home?

– Tim Chester, ‘A Meal With Jesus’