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The Last Supper
The Last Supper
Food commercials fascinate me. Some nudge at our need to present a healthy platter of fruits, vegetables, grains, and joy in caring for ourselves properly. Others encourage us to indulge in clandestine pursuits of rich decadence that no one can really fault us for, if we are discovered. Still others imply our supreme intelligence if we choose right, and choose theirs.
My favorites are the advertisers that use food products as magic amulets to draw families away from mesmerizing activities like talking on the phone or playing video games, to tantalizing adventures such as take out chicken, specialty pizza, and homemade casseroles from prepackaged ingredients that tempt with fragrant aromas like grandma's cooking used to welcome us. Apparently this is big, very big, that their products are such a force of nature that they can bring the family unit back to the table as a group to do what families are meant to do: interact with each other. Eating together has become a premium commodity worthy of the marketing agendas of major companies. Perhaps it is time to set aside our anguish over school prayer and focus on this phenomenon for a moment.
If we are to believe the commercials, we've stopped breaking bread together because the bread wasn't worth the effort. I don't believe that. If quality of meals were the issue, we would have discovered cave drawings telling that sad tale years ago. My guess is that we don't eat together as families as much these days because we have found something we consider more important to do between five and seven every evening. Having trained ourselves to believe that activity means productivity, and productivity equals a better, i.e., more affluent life, we have allowed the dinner hour, a prime family-based community time, to be usurped in the name of initiating increasingly consumption-driven lives for our children. Simultaneously, we bemoan the disintegration of the family unit as defined by decades-old situation comedies. What have we traded off for second jobs at the mall that leverage our spending power and limit our personal relationships to good night kisses on a slumbering cheeks? What do our children learn about creativity and choices when their after-school activities, lessons and practices disconnect them from conversations with their parents, brothers and sisters, and leave them so exhausted they cannot enjoy what little free time they may have? What do we lose as a culture when we disown the value of relational intimacy and mutual respect born of shared time together, communication, and appreciation of who and what each of us brings to the table?
Was the Last Super really the last supper? Although abruptly interrupted that evening by Judas' leave-taking, the Passover meal Jesus shared with his disciples was not a rushed affair, and they all showed up. They ate, drank, argued, complained and told stories. Participating in a a ritual rooted in historical tradition, loving collegiality and deep faith, the disciples only began to really see what was happening to them and their leader at the close of the evening. What would have happened if a few of them had decided they couldn't make it because they had to go to their second jobs at the market? They would have missed an important meal, and all its personal significance to them and their faith journey.
Sharing meals with our families and loved ones is, in its way, not unlike our shared table with our family of faith in communion. In both we recognize our unity of purpose as the body of Christ, we renew our faith and nurture our souls, and we reaffirm our belief that we are not in this alone. God created us to be together. Connecting to each other as people of faith in communities, from families to churches, doesn't just happen. We must carve out the time, create the opportunity and open ourselves to each other with intentionality and deep love.
This article was posted on November 01, 2005