Weekly Thought – October 13, 2020
Fred loved to eat. In his early life he won a chicken eating contest. He was affectionately known as Fat Fred. Years later he modified his habits moderate, but food continued to delight him. A good friend, Ed Yates, faithfully provided him with pies he made especially for Fred. After dialysis he enjoyed slices of Ed’s gifts. Fred loved thinking about the faith journey from unusual vantage points. This week he discourses on the comparison of food and worship styles.
Bread of Life
The analogy between spiritual and physical eating interests me.
Eating habits and style begin early. My family growing up was happy just to have food and the number of forks was irrelevant. Style definitely took a back seat to execution. However, I have some fine Southern friends who believe food cannot be consumed without proper form. Clarence Darrow in his law practice was the great defender of the outcast and downtrodden, but was heard saying. “I will do anything for the common man except eat with him.”
It occurs to me our churchgoing is similar to our eating habits.
Some are gourmets who can only enjoy food if it is expensive, perfectly presented, and consumed in the finest environments. They have cultivated tastes and dignified demeanors. The food must satisfy more than their need for food – it must satisfy their aesthetic sensibilities. Likewise we have members of the Body of Christ who require surroundings and manner of service to satisfy their understanding of worship. The value of the spiritual feeding depends on the environment.
We also have those who insist everything be done in dignity. Decorum is a core value. The surroundings may be less formal, but propriety and proportion are key. They never overeat nor engage in excessive table discussion. Their manners are beyond reproach and their tastes are well-ordered.
Then we have the “all you can eat.” Dinner on the ground crowd. The room is abuzz with conversation. The quality and quantity of the food far exceeds the importance of the serving style. My experience these folks want all their friends to know about the food and how to get a place at the table.
As a born and bred Southern Baptist I can tell you I believe them to be the “chicken eating, share the love of Jesus” group. I will leave the identification of the others to your personal observation.
I once visited a church to hear a friend speak. Unaware of the exact service time I arrived early, entered a totally empty, beautifully appointed stone sanctuary. I picked a convenient aisle seat and enjoyed my time alone in this magnificent edifice. Shortly, an elderly woman came in and nearly sat on my lap in this vacant room. After a few uncomfortable minutes, I asked, “Am I sitting in your seat?” “Yes, our family has occupied these seats for decades.” She is a woman of tradition and decorum and I had violated her “church eating rules.” She would be uncomfortable at my potluck church, but we both desired to be fed.
It is too easy to turn up our noses at those who eat differently, physically or spiritually. A formal service may provide me an experience that a good old Sunday evening song service might not. And the generous serving of the Gospel could bring nutrition to the gourmet churchgoer.
Food is sometimes a luxury, often a joy, and always a necessity. When we know others are eating, we should be thankful they are being nourished.
And bottom line: the focus is on the Bread of Life, whether it is a croissant or a slice of Wonder bread.
This week think about: 1) Is worship style a matter of principle or preference? 2) How can I live in unity with other communities of faith? 3) What does being an agent of peace look like for me?
Words of Wisdom: “The focus is on the Bread of Life, whether it is a croissant or a slice of Wonder Bread.”
Wisdom from the Word: “I therefore a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” (Ephesians 4:1-3 NIV)