If you spend some time thinking about why food is mentioned in the Bible, you’ll probably find yourself coming up with several answers, and perhaps those various answers will then take your thoughts in many directions. That’s exactly what happened over dinner tables this autumn when small groups from OSA gathered together for the Food & Scripture studies. We found our conversations traveling down many paths to discover the meanings of food references in the Bible.
Here’s another question we tackled after reading about Jesus’ dinner at the home of Mary and Martha (see Luke 10: 38-42). At the dinner, Martha prepared the meal while Mary sat with Jesus. As any of us who ever felt an unfair burden of chores might do, Martha complained that Mary was shirking her duties to help prepare the meal. “And Jesus answered and said unto her, ‘Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things: But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.’” (KJV)
What is happening in that passage? What is Jesus teaching during that meal preparation about priorities? As the Feeding the Flock discussion question asked, it’s easy to wonder “(h)ow would dinner have been fixed if both Martha and Mary had sat at Jesus’ feet?” What thoughts come to your mind when you think about that meal and Jesus’ words?
The small-groups from OSA met in each other’s homes and gathered around tables together. I suppose it’s no surprise that by sharing a meal together, we also shared our ideas, questions, humor, insights. We shared ourselves and we shared a good time. As Olivia Asher said, “I didn’t realize a Bible study group would be so much fun.”
Paul Mueller reflected the variety of benefits that we gained from the meetings in his comments. He said, “Having a mixture of people (young and old) together was wonderful and I think doing this at someone’s home over food contributes to the communication and sense of community. I think these small group meetings strengthen one’s commitment to the church, as a whole, and I would like to see more of this. Lots of ideas cropped up in these small group meetings and it was fun to act on a few of them and garner and sense of ‘doing something’ for the greater good.”
Bob Wollenburg captured the atmosphere we shared around the table with, “A group of us met for dinner and conversation around the study book and Bible, and we found it, well, inspiring (maybe too strong a word), informative (no, that would be much too objective), enlivening (yes, but that’s not really it), happy and fun (definitely, but that’s not enough), solidifying (huh?!). Well, it just made us more relaxed in each other’s presence and drew us together, like what happens in a family when all sit down to eat together and talk about the day’s events. You cannot put your finger on it but life goes on and nothing has changed, except that life is better.”
Thank you to Pastor Eggers for recommending the book Feeding the Flock by Russell Chandler. The groups used the book to guide their discussions. Thank you for the OSA Council for implementing the discussion series. The hosts of the events were gracious and welcoming – thank you. And, of course, thank you to the individuals who shared their time (and thanks for the good food you brought!). Above all, thanks be to God who provides us with the nourishment we need. Our table is indeed filled to abundance.