Lent Reflections as we work towards the Easter Offering Service 2023 No Borders to God’s Love
Grateful thanks go to Rev’d Inderjit Bhogal whose book ‘Hospitality and Sanctuary for All provided starting points and stimulus for these reflections.
Week beginning 20th February. Sharing meals
Reading John 2:1 – 12. John 21:4 – 14
One of the joys of sharing with family and friends is being able to sit and eat together, for as we eat we share not only the food, but the pleasure of one another’s company. We exchange news and opinions, air concerns and hopes, tell jokes and stories, laugh and cry together.
The Bible gives us quite a number of examples of times when Jesus shared meals with his disciples in all the gospels. Some meals were celebrating special occasions such as the Wedding in Cana, while others were more everyday examples such as with his friends Mary and Martha. A wide range of emotions must have surrounded the Last Supper and the poignant joy of the breakfast on the beach.
What can we learn about hospitality from these meals? Are there commonalities between them? Each example shows Jesus in a key role, for even when he is not the host he makes significant contributions to the gathering, quietly taking control of the need for more wine at Cana, organising the disciples to distribute loaves and fishes despite it seeming insufficient food when 5000 people followed him, showing by example that all have something to contribute when Martha is annoyed with Mary, and hosting the disciples by cooking breakfast. Several of the stories mention Jesus breaking bread to share. He must have had a unique style of doing this for it is recognised not only by the disciples at the beach breakfast, but also by the travellers on the Emmaus road even when they had not recognised him as they walked together. So, this action is one that is fundamental to the sharing of a meal emphasising that all who are present have an equal part to play in the gathering around the ‘table’.
When we share around a table are there patterns in our behaviours which are recognisable and essential to our ability to treat each person hospitably and fairly? Are there any similarities between the ways in which we learn of Jesus meal sharing and our own? The Easter Offering service this year focusses around welcome and hospitality, especially to those who are considered as strangers.
Reflect on meals that you have shared with your own family and/or friends. Are there differences in the ways people behave when there is a range of age groups? Does the setting alter the way people behave? If there is someone present who has not been in your group before, does that make any adjustments to people’s conversation or behaviour? Jesus’ key message was to love God, and love our neighbour. Do we construct limits or create borders to exclude anyone from God’s love?
Prayer This week many friends and families will share in making and enjoying pancakes, a long tradition for the start of Lent when people traditionally reduced their range of foods and fasted in preparation for Easter. We give thanks for the sharing in ways more than eating food, the support and encouragement we give and receive. We are grateful for this time of consciously giving something up that we enjoy, of being able to reflect on how we interact with others in our day to day lives; how the examples of Jesus acts of hospitality are reflecting in our own ways of sharing; the importance of meals as acts of preparation for future events. Help us to recognise that each meal can reflect your love and your welcome. Amen