Keeping the Feast

Feasting and eating are two very different things. Eating is what happens to leftovers over the kitchen sink as you rush out the door to the next thing on your calendar. Feasting is what happens when a meal is lovingly prepared for hours, served on grandmother’s fine china, surrounded by family. Eating is what you do in a seat belt after wheeling through the drive-thru, eager to scarf down a few calories. Feasting is bringing take-out home to a hungry family, sitting down (even for a few minutes) and scarfing down food together while hearing a few highlights from the day or learning about who may have been slighted by a peer. Eating happens in front of the TV or phone screen. Feasting happens in front of God when thanks is given. Eating happens without intention. Feasting happens when a group of busy friends bring whatever’s in the fridge over for a makeshift potluck, because making time to be together is more important than what’s on the menu. Eating happens anywhere. Feasting happens around a nurturing table – whether it’s in a formal dining room, a kitchen bar top, an outside deck, or around the campfire. Eating is mundane, necessary for existence. Feasting nourishes us, body, mind, and spirit.

I love hosting people for meals. Whether I cook, pick up a chicken from Costco, or get take out from a favorite restaurant, I love having people in my home, feasting on good conversation, leftover cheese, cheap wine, and lots of laughter. Small side conversations in the kitchen over dirty dishes or boisterous laughter outside on the deck with chips and salsa- these feasts fill me up in ways that simply eating could never do.

My first book this summer is about setting a life-giving table in your home and how feasting can become an every day part of life, even when life is hectic. It’s hard to imagine daily or even weekly feasts in real life like I’ve enjoyed every day here in Hawaii. Here, I’m a tourist. Not only at the resorts, but even at the food trucks, I’m catered to in ways that are unimaginable and even make me feel a bit guilty (and that’s where the big tip comes in – good work service industry!) But if we pull back from the fact that it’s their job to make me feel this way, I think the resort world has a little something to teach us all about setting a life giving, feasting table in our own homes.

Everywhere I go here, I feel like the honored guest. Shouldn’t that be the case for everyone who comes in to our own homes?

Every staff member here makes my comfort their high priority. Shouldn’t we make our own guests feel so comfortable that their stress melts away when they are around our table too?

Their service with a smile is so believable… what do I look like when serving others? Do I look that happy to put dinner on the table for my guests? What if my guests are less than gracious (like some resort guest)? Could I still find joy in serving others in this way?

How can I make others feel so welcome and cared for that they see my table as a place to come to seek refuge from the world? How can I make my home a place where even though the wine is cheap, the cheese is from Trader Joe’s, and the glasses don’t match, friends still desire to gather to share heartfelt conversation and the kind of being known that is so rare?

Jesus’ first miracle was turning water into wine at the wedding at Cana. We could speculate a lot about Jesus’ reasoning here, and indeed many theologians have. There were cultural factors as to why Jesus may have done this. There’s the symbolism of using the water jugs (symbolizing the source of life, purity) and creating wine (symbolizing the blood of Jesus, sacrifice). We could go so far to say that he did it because his mother told him to (but I think we all can agree that’s a poor translation…Jesus wouldn’t talk to his mother like that!). In all of those possibilities, I can’t help but see that Jesus may have wanted the feast to continue. The wedding celebration could have been over a week long event. Running out of wine was not an option. Jesus stepped in to quietly and gracefully continue the welcome, continue the celebration, and keep the feast going.

Sometimes feasting in our own homes may feel like a miracle. With busy lives, who has time to think about planning a feast? But feast is less defined by what we eat. It’s how we spend our meal times, snack times, coffee and tea times together…consuming not jut physical sustenance but emotional and spiritual sustenance as well. Gathering strength for the journey not only from good food but from dear company and meaningful conversation. Even in the midst of busy days and busy lives, with just a little intentionality, we can keep the feast going too.

(A few of my feasts from the past week)

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