This is Canon Victoria’s letter in our weekly Parish News email. To sign up for our newsletter, please visit: Constant Contact. To see the full weekly Parish News email from Feb 17th, please visit: http://conta.cc/2kGNyDC
In most cultures, to eat with someone is to have a relationship with him. By eating together underscores a commonality of need and recognition of similar status or lifting up someone. To not eat with someone is to draw a line of difference. When Peter stopped eating with Gentiles, he drew the wrath of Paul (Galatians 2:12) who clearly saw that to preserve the lines of distinction between Gentiles and Jews was to undermine the truth that Jesus died for all and offers all new life, whether at Messiah’s table or the breakfast table. The Roman world was disturbed by citizens eating with slaves. The very act pointed to an inherent equality that threatened to “turn the world upside down” (Acts 17:6).
“Bread” is the basic word for food in the Scriptures. “Give us this day our daily bread.” The bread of the Jewish people from 1000 B.C. to the Roman era was made of wheat or barley, molded into round loaves or pita style breads. Meat was eaten only occasionally, for feasts or when guests arrived. For ordinary people for breakfast and dinner, there was bread, vegetables, oils and fruit in season, such as figs or apples, and perhaps the occasional fish. Water, wine or beer, much less alcoholic than ours, were typical drinks. We have rediscovered this diet in the last two decades as the Mediterranean diet, but it was the regular diet of Israel, and of Jesus and his disciples.
The act of eating is so ordinary that often we do not think about it. We grab toast or pour cereal for breakfast. Yet, thinking about what we eat, with whom we eat and what eating signifies is deeper than we mean. We begin with a hasty breakfast and end with to what we do to find God in the Eucharist. “Come have breakfast,” the Risen Jesus says to his disciples (John 21:12). It is a standing invitation.
I am ever hungry for and grateful for, as well as undeserving of, the Holy Eucharist. And I am also grateful for the diverse and devoted priests and pastors throughout my lifetime who offered Christ’s sacred meal to the flocks I called family throughout the years: Robert George, Jack Cuthbert, Chad Vogt, and David Evans at St. Peter’s; Robert Minnix, A.P. Beale, and Karl Reich; the priest in East Lansing who fed us on Sunday nights; the priest in Green Bay who wondered why my husband never came to church with me; dear Robert Blythe in Kentucky; the first woman priest I ever knew in Boulder, CO; David Sailer in Fletcher; Walter Fauntroy and Kym Lucas in Washington, DC; Ernesto Rodriguez at St. Joseph’s; Caesar Clark, Mark Story, Gail Gateley, Mike Wallens, Victoria Heard in Texas — and others whose shadows flickered more quickly across my path. The setting of the Holy table, indeed even the cleanup after the feast, has always drawn my fascination. I thank God for His many servants who have brought the sacramental bread and wine to my lips for these past 57 years since my Confirmation, and for those I have yet to meet.
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