Do you realize that Jesus was always eating?
Then there is this profoundly beautiful thought wrapped up in food: “At the Last Supper Jesus tells his disciples to eat in remembrance of him. Of all the things he could’ve chosen to be done ‘in remembrance’ of him, Jesus chose a meal. He could have asked his followers to do something impressive or mystical—climb a mountain, fast for forty days, or have a trippy sweat lodge ceremony—but instead he picks the most ordinary of acts, eating, through which to be present to his people.” –Tish Harrison Warren, Liturgy of the Ordinary, p. 63
I love eating food.
Do you realize Jesus chose to eat his last meal with someone who would betray him?
Here we are in the Christmas season. You are about to share meals with people who will betray you. Who have betrayed you. Who show their love conditionally and maybe have great joy in powering over you. Who will say that one thing which will start up that rotation of shame voices in your head…again. Who will trigger every insecurity you have ever conquered.
Jesus is with you in those meals.
You are about to eat some beautiful food with these people. You will either numb yourself or choose the joy. Food is so often used to numb our pain. To numb our vulnerability. This is the wrong use of food. Food should be about choosing joy, even in the midst of betrayal. Those of you with food addictions and food issues know all about the joy that you cannot find. Find your healing. Do the hard work of healing. You are worthy of joy.
You will also eat some beautiful food with people you love so much your heart hurts. You can’t believe you have these quality and these awesome people in your life. The joy bubbles up inside of you. It is easy to say prayers of gratefulness to Jesus when surrounded by these people. It is even easy to see Jesus’ presence when you are with these people. May this joy spill out as you eat beautiful food with these beautiful people. May you cherish every bite as you make these beautiful memories. You are worthy of this joy. And you have beautiful food to memorialize it with. Taste every bite. This is your brave life you are living.
The food at Christmas is full of memories. At Christmas is when that gingerbread cookie tastes extra special. Or is the only time you get to eat your grandmother’s sweet potatoes (or the only time you allow yourself to eat that sickly sweet dish in your diet). It is the only time you get to eat lefse. What? You don’t know what lefse is? It’s a Norwegian flat bread that you put butter and sugar on. My aunt makes it from the original Norwegian family recipe. It is the most anticipated food of Christmas (though my brother’s deep-fried turkey is definitely moving up there). Doesn’t it sound wonderful to you? If it doesn’t it is because it isn’t wrapped deeply in the memories that I have. Enjoy these memory foods this Christmas season. Every bite of them.
Eating is a ritual in our lives. We have to do it, right? To keep our bodies fueled. It is a necessity. But we have the choice of eating beautiful food or just eating fuel. Food is more than fuel so consciously make a rule of not eating in your car. And another rule of not eating standing up. Taste every bite.
As Addie Zierman wrote (I’m sure she knows what lefse is as she lives in Minnesota):
There’s so much that food can do for us. But also, there’s so much that it can’t do. Eating healthy food won’t fix my unhealthy thought patterns or settle my fears any more than throwing ice cream on it will. I cannot salad my way out of depression or kombucha away my anger, no matter what the diet gurus might say.
To approach the feast with a sense of desperation and scarcity or with restraint and discipline is to miss the point entirely, because the banqueting table was never about the food. It’s about the One who prepares it in an overabundance of love and grace.
The point is not the spread on the table, but rather One at the center, handing around the bread and the wine, saying Eat, drink, do it to remember me. (full blog)
Jesus chose a meal to do this.
Choose joy this Christmas. Choose that Christmas cookie. Taste that Christmas cookie. You may find that you will only need to eat that one Christmas cookie because your heart will be so full with that memory you are making. This is what choosing joy is about.
Joy can feel like a set up, right? We believe that if we really feel this wonderful emotion then something bad is right around the corner. So you would rather dismiss joy or control those joyful feelings. We do things so we don’t get blindsided by pain. We want to beat vulnerability to the punch. So we shame ourselves for wanting to eat that cookie. Or that extra gravy. Or we shame ourselves after we’ve eaten 10 cookies and don’t remember when we ate that eighth one. Shame should have no part of your Christmas season. Especially when there is so much beautiful food! Do the hard work and choose joy. Choose the vulnerability to believe that you are worthy to feel this joy. To make this memory. To taste this beautiful food.
We celebrate this Christmas season because Jesus put on our beautiful skin to touch the world. This is what the beauty of Christmas is all about. While on earth Jesus looked at the human condition and touched it, sometimes healed it. Jesus felt pain. And Jesus felt joy. He felt both. And he seemed to always be eating.
Tis the season we eat beautiful food! May you choose joy.
(photo credits: https://blog.trafalgar.com/2016/12/09/christmas-food-around-world-anyone-loves-dessert/, pixabay.com, https://wellvegan.com/recipe/vegan-hot-chocolate-coffee-bar, http://www.westfargopioneer.com/news/4177496-homemade-holidays-make-your-own-fabulous-foods-christmas-gift-giving, http://www.christmastwist.com/peanut-butter-reindeer-cookies/)