Who’s Coming to Dinner?
“Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes?” – Matthew 6:25 (NIV)
Delicious food has many destinations tonight. Dinner tables across the country will be brimming with all kinds of culinary indulgences: sumptuous appetizers, rich entrees, delectable desserts.
On this national day of feasting, many churches and service organizations are particularly mindful of the poor and homeless. Beyond our regular food programs, we make special efforts to provide hot meals for the indigent and to assemble food boxes stuffed with turkeys and fixings for seniors and struggling families.
There is definitely a time for fasting, but for most of us, it’s not today. If there is one day when calorie counters feel they deserve a break, it’s today.
In Black American culture, food is a prominent expression of cultural pride. Living through generations of poverty and scarcity undergirded by systemic racism, Black Americans find a certain self-affirmative jubilation in being able to dress our dinner tables with the savory delights of our creative cuisine that our communal struggles have never been able to stifle.
But notwithstanding all the energy and attention we give to food preparation, food distribution, and food presentation today, we know viscerally that what’s on our tables is not nearly as important as who’s at our tables. Food is only the precursor to the persons who are the main ingredient at any dinner gathering.
What satisfies us is not just the perfectly seared seafood or the delightful vegetables or the decadent sweets. What fills us is the presence of loved ones and friends who share with us another anniversary of gratitude for being alive and for being together.
And more than the food on the table, we are filled by the spaces of loved ones who are no longer with us.
Even if we dine alone tonight, the dinner is honored by the presence of our own thankfulness.
Lord, feed us today with the peace of your presence. Amen.
Kenneth L. Samuel is Pastor of Victory for the World Church, Stone Mountain, Georgia.