“Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favour of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.” Acts 2:46-47
Our 5 year old twins (Jack and Emily) saw a giant golden ‘M’ by the side of the road one day, which started a fascinating conversation. They told us their friends in the playground have been talking about a “meal in a box, with a milkshake, a toy, and EVERYTHING”.
“Can we have one?!” they asked in unison.
“Yes – but you’ll need to cook it yourselves” was my reply.
One of our favourite family table conversations is “Where did our dinner come from?”. We try and work out the journey that all the items on our plate have been on. For the last few years I’ve been a flexitarian, eating local and organic vegetarian produce as much as possible, but also some carefully sourced meat for birthdays and special events. In fact, recently we bought five 12-week old pigs from a farmers’ market, and with the help of our friends and a local farmer, we raised them until they were ready for the table. It’s been so good for our children to understand the story behind our food by getting covered in pig muck every week.
At the breakfast table on Saturday morning, we started making our ‘Happy Meal’ plans. Phones off, time for an adventure. We started by popping in to chat to the greengrocer and buy some local produce… onions, eggs to bind the burgers, potatoes to make chips and so on. Afterwards we went next door to ask the butcher for his advice and buy some beef. Eventually we had everything we needed for later that day.
Some families from Church decided to meet up. Half went for a very muddy walk in the woods, while the other half stayed at our house to roast coffee beans together. We have just bought a big sack of green beans direct from a Fair Trade farm in Brazil. We worshipped, chatted and roasted for a couple of hours, then Steph and the twins arrived home with rosy cheeks, ready for a hot chocolate and a chapter of Famous Five.
1 Corinthians 10:13 encourages us, ‘whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.’ Jack and Emily had great fun mixing together all of the beautiful ingredients, making patties, chips and milkshakes… all to the glory of God! While the burgers were cooking they set about designing their own paper bags and we chose a couple of little surprise presents out of our recycled present box.
After a lovely, messy family afternoon our dinner was finally ready. We said thank you to God for our food in sign language (we do this so that the twins can say grace at school without being too embarrassed), and then tucked in to our delicious feast. Over dinner we talked about where the money from big chain restaurants goes. We talked about how amazing God’s gift of food is. We talked about how we can find God in beautiful rich soil. We just talked and talked.
The next day we took the leftover patties to Church. Our community worships simply and regularly throughout the week (and on Sundays) around the tables in our homes. We bring our food, our lives and our stories to share together, the children usually take a lead. There are always so many colourful, delicious dishes from all over the world, but there are also packets of cheap crisps and leftovers from our fridges… absolutely everything is valued. It’s such a joyful and simple way of sharing life together as big extended families.
Acts’ example of the first believers breaking bread in each other’s homes beautifully reflects the Gospel’s invitation to include everyone and to come as you are.
These biblical meal times can seem so estranged from the way we often live – consuming food on the go, failing to think about how far our food has travelled, not stopping to consider if our food is sustainably sourced or whether the plastic packaging is recyclable. As the children and young people in our communities begin to understand more and more about the beautiful connections between nature and food, they also start to also understand the price the earth pays for ‘Happy Meals’.
With hope-fuelled determination they are already starting to live differently and sustainably, choosing the narrow path. Let’s follow them.
We got home in the late afternoon after several hours of worship and food around our friend’s table, and decided to have a little bonfire and dig the next little section of our new veg patch. Jack and Emily are keen to grow potatoes this spring, so that our chips are even more local! I’m half tempted to cut out a big golden M and put it outside our house. All are welcome.
This reflection was written by Chad Chadwick for the Wild Christian email, ‘Nature and Food.’ Chad is the Diocese of Peterborough Children & Youth Missioner and leads a Missional Community in Rushden (Northants) www.gen2team.com / www.wearethewell.co.uk