Hungry Religion

I am preaching this Sunday about a pair of healing stories. But one thing I don’t fully extrapolate in the sermon is the earthiness of the second healing. In Mark 5, after Jesus has raised a little girl, seemingly from death, he tells her parents and the disciples present to “give her something to eat.” It’s cursory, from the outset. But food is never cursory in our family.

In the Pottorff house, we build our lives around meals. My spouse, Abby, is a consummate chef who loves the art of cooking. And she comes from a family that deeply values the act of breaking bread together. Our home is often filled with the scents of sweet breakfast muffins and savory dinner soufflés, simmering pots and a diversity of dishes. Our children have been exposed to more food in their short lives than I had been by the time I entered college. We love good food. Some people eat to live. We live to eat.

Likewise, the Scriptures are full of images of eating. From fruit in the Garden to the supper of the Lamb in Revelation, we are invited again and again to imagine food as a part of the divine relationship between God and creation. Jesus tells his disciples more than once to feed those who surround them. This is as good a time as any to think theologically about food as well, since we are beginning to regather as incarnational community. What will it mean for us to reconstitute the observance of Holy Communion? Just as important, what does it mean to nibble on cookies or Goldfish® with others after worship?

I’ve found that many of my most pastoral, intimate, and meaningful conversations happen over meals, a bourbon on the porch, or an early cup of coffee at a diner. Breaking bread together is an ancient deed of hospitality and connection. We learn about others over heaping servings of lasagna; bowls of chili; and grilled BBQ with fresh avocado corn salad and crisp watermelon on a thin paper plate. Food connects us. It always has.

This summer, as we gather again in places sacred and seemingly mundane, may we notice the holiness that permeates our meals. And may Jesus’ prescription to “give them something to eat” flavor our own willingness to share our bread with the world.