GOOD FOOD CULTURE
It is surprising how many of the best loved stories about Jesus happened over food and drink. There is the last supper, and the time that Jesus fed 5000 people with five loaves and two fish (and also when he did similarly with 4000 people). Jesus was part of the the wedding in Cana, and saved the day when they ran out of wine, and he partied with disreputable people like Matthew and his friends. He was repeatedly the guest at the homes of the pharisees, and when he picked out Zaccheaus and spoke words of acceptance and salvation to him, he did so by inviting himself for a meal at Zaccheaus’ house! Following the resurrection, Jesus was speaking with two of his followers on the road to Emmaus, and they had not realised it was him until he sat down with them, and broke bread and at that moment their eyes were opened. When Jesus forgave Peter for his betrayal, he did so by sharing a barbecued breakfast with him on the beach.
Jesus apparently saw eating with others as a big part of his ministry, and in Luke 7, he even says of himself, “The Son of Man has come eating and drinking…”
When he spoke of the future Kingdom of God, Jesus upped the ante even further, comparing it to a great banquet, with good food and wine. This echoes the theme of Isaiah 25:6, “On this mountain the Lord of hosts will make for all peoples a feast of rich food, a feast of well-aged wine…”
What was even more surprising than Jesus’ focus on food was his choice of who to share that food with. One of the most common criticisms of Jesus from his contemporaries was that he ‘ate and drink with sinners’. He was extending the privelege of fellowship to the lowly, the unclean and the undeserving. As Tom Wright puts it, “Jesus was celebrating the messianic banquet, and doing it with all the wrong people.”
By sharing food with people who others rejected, Jesus was extending to them a welcome into the kingdom of God. There is space at his table for whoever wants to come.
Good Food Culture at CCM
Having a Good Food Culture at Christ Church Manchester means that we don’t see food as a secondary after-thought when we gather, but we see it as a fundamental part of living out the Kingdom of God.
Firstly, this means that we work hard at creating a welcoming atmosphere. In all of our meetings, we make a point of providing good quality food and coffee (a decent coffee machine is one of the very first things we buy every time we launch a new site!) and you will find a warm and friendly community of people who are eager to help you feel at home, start geting to know some people and answer any questions that you have
It also means that hospitality is very important to us. We try to have food together in as many of our community groups as we can, and there are often meals at/after our Sunday meetings. We also think that hospitality works best when it happens spontaneously, and lot of people in the church are very generous in opening their homes and hosting meals for others.
On a similar note, we love parties, and just like Jesus did with Matthew and his friends, we want to get big groups of people together, fire up a barbecue and find a good reason to celebrate.
We share communion in all of our Sunday services. When Jesus ate the Last Supper with his disciples, he instructed them to share together in the bread and the wine whenever they met in remembrance of him, and in anticipation of the great banquet to come in the Kingdom, and as we take communion it is a symbol of the fellowship that we have with Jesus and with each other, and this is a very important part of our meetings to us.
The idea of a good food culture isn’t that we are striving to get on next year’s Masterchef, but simply that we are willing to share the best of what we have with one another. At the core of this is the knowledge that amongst us are many who do not have much of their own, and part of a good food culture means that we have a heart to share with the needy, to invite in those who are despised and rejected and to give what we have to those with least.