After spending a couple weeks exploring fasting, we turn our sights to feasting, a tradition that is globally embraced among religious and non-religious folks alike. Everybody loves a party! But it can’t go unnoticed that Christianity has embraced feasting from its infancy. Some of the Gospels’ greatest miracle stories involve the multiplication of food to feed enormous crowds. Jesus often turns up at lavish dinner parties (and usually makes people uncomfortable). When the Early Church settled into its own worship culture, it chose a feast—the Eucharist—as its centerpiece, rather than animal sacrifice or performative penance. So no bloodshed, no bowing, no scraping. Just an open seat at an eternal table.
Why would the first Christians focus on feasting? They were obsessed with radical hospitality or, as we call it at Gather, ecstatic inclusion. Their joys and passions could not be contained. They had to share them with everyone they knew. As a result, every time Christians gathered became a festive occasion. The emphasis was on sharing with everyone who found their way to the table. And they called this practice blessing, which in its strictest sense means, “to make happy.”
When Jesus takes the bread and blesses it, he vests it with a power to make his companions happy. It’s exactly what we do when we fill our houses with company to celebrate Christmas and Easter and other Christian feasts. The hospitality principle is in full flower. We have these parties to make folks happy. It’s also why we gather at table every time we worship: to invite our guests to enjoy hospitality that makes them happy.
Henri Nouwen says we are blessed to bless others. It’s the hospitality principle taken to the extreme. This week we’ll discuss the feast-blessing-hospitality-happiness connection. It’s an illuminating thread to follow! Join us at 7:30p CDT to find out more.
Blessings, with much love,