As usual, Rabbi was in fine form this week for classes. I hear he gave a lecture worth $1000 on Monday night to the intro class. And then on Tuesday night, somewhat in conjunction with Messianic Concepts of the First Century, he gave the most amazing lecture I've ever heard on food. I'm sure that I can't do it justice; I probably didn't even understand it all. But what I did glean from it resonated strongly.
For starters, "food is always a point of contact to remind us of creation, covenant, and communal identity." This ties in nicely to the fact that people don't like to eat alone (unless you're a C and you can read a book - a form of contact in disguise). It also seems to be a great correlation to Rabbi's sermon a few weeks ago on John 21. Jesus makes the disciples breakfast, and you can see through the exchange how He is using the meal as a point of contact. And, as Rabbi said, part of the good news of the resurrection is that "you never have to eat breakfast alone again."
The topic of food then expanded to include the arena for sharing food - hospitality. "Hospitality is the compelling reality that we are incomplete without each other. . .we share food because of the shared reality of our need to eat, which leads to a shared life." This is so true. Very rarily do Eric and I have a couple over for dinner without feeling significantly closer and more connected to them by the end of the evening. And it's not just about sheer time. The link is clearly - at least clearly now thanks to Rabbi - the result of food and hospitality.
But really, how important is hospitality? Rabbi pointed us to 1 Peter 4:7-9: "7The end of all things is near. Therefore be clear minded and self-controlled so that you can pray. 8Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. 9Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling." Wow.
The hospitality-love connection is seen in that "we offer good food as a reflection of how we value the other person." That's not to disqualify spontaneous hospitality that offers what it has, but there is something disarming about having someone go to all the trouble of fixing you a fantastic meal. When we last went to Jim and Joy Grainge's house, they fixed steak (my favorite), stuffed mushrooms (Eric's favorite), and an array of other amazing dishes. I was blessed and blown away that they had remembered our favorites and put in the time and money to prepare for our dinner together. In short, I felt valued by the meal they chose to serve, even loved.
So what does it take to have a successful meal like we had at the Grainges? "Good food and good company." Rabbi gave the example of going on a date with your wife to your favorite restaurant. If, as you're about to leave, your wife asks how she looks and you give the wrong answer, the romantic evening could very well be lost. Or, if you go and have fabulous conversation, but everything about the meal is off - overcooked, not as good as you remembered, etc. - it takes something away from the overall experience. Yes, it requires good food and good company for a good meal. And when you have those things, you experience an "engaging sense of wishing it could go on forever."
Which is exactly the purpose. Every meal that we eat is to be a reminder that someday we will sit at the Messianic Banquet with our victorious King, the Marriage Supper of the Lamb. The food will be amazing. The company couldn't be better. And it will be the ultimate contact point for life in the world to come.