MEALS WITH MEANING
Series of resources designed to help creatively explore, celebrate and worship together around the table revolving around the calendar of feasts and festivals.
The meal table is a ‘storied’ place. There are meals that Jesus would have eaten and tell something of the story that framed his life. There are meals that our ancestors would have celebrated that tell something of the histories and stories that frame our lives, sometimes with direct reference to the story of following Jesus and sometimes not. There are meals that we eat that weave into the fabric of our lives and may tell something of our own stories, shaping and framing our lives as they continue to unfold.
Sometimes we need to take specific time, as we eat together, to let these stories speak and remind us to pay attention to things that are important, to let them surprise us, lead us into new territory, to spark some fun, or to provide us with a sense of rhythm that allows us to regularly savour the flavour of our journey.
As we celebrate in particular groups in particular locations, the challenge of reconciling all these stories, wondering how we live in the tension between them, noticing the places they overlap or diverge from our lived experiences is fertile ground for questions, conversation, connection (and some laughter as well!) and perhaps grounds too for forging a few new feasts of our own as we tell our stories right here, right now.
URBANLIFE was launched in September with a celebration meal that took its shape from the Jewish Rosh Hashanah festival; a feast that Jesus would have been familiar with.
Here are some of the words and ideas we used on the evening. We hope to publish a whole series of ‘Meals With Meaning’ some time in 2015 including ideas for special foods and the symbolism attached to them; liturgy, prayer and conversation starters for each meal; as well as some suggestions of activities to do together.
“Rosh Hasanah means ‘head of the year’ and is the Jewish new year feast. What better way to mark the start of a new venture at the beginning of a new academic year, than by joining around tables to celebrate a Rosh Hashanah meal together.
As we focus on celebrating Jesus in the city, the meal, in its food, symbols and actions leads us through a number of themes that resonate well with the journey of following him – creative participation, thoughtful reflection, openness to others and to hopeful possibilities.”
A Feast of Blowing
“Another name for the festival was the feast of trumpets as the shofar, or ram’s horn trumpet was blown 100 times to call all the people together. Time to pay attention!”
“The trumpet calls us to stop. It is a call to be together in Sabbath rest, to re-focus and re-centre, bringing the past, present and future together into the presence of God.
The trumpet calls us to remember that God is faithful …
The trumpet blew to say ‘Wake up! God is making all things new.’ He has brough the year to a new beginning and we expect to see him at work in it! So lets blow the party trumpets.”
“The candles on the festival table represent creation and re-creation. We light the candle of creation in thanks for the world in which we live and for the creative presence of God we see in it. And the candle of re-creation in hopeful acknowledgement of all that we don’t yet see but is to come. We leave them burning as a reminder of our creative participation in the between – in the now and the not yet.”
“Rosh Hashanah calls us, at a time of beginnings and endings, of new seasons and transitions, to pay attention to the head of our family, in whose name we journey and around whom we gather – symbolised by bread.”
“At this festival, the loaf is always round to remind us that God is fully present to us …”
“Bread that remembers Jesus’s generous welcome of all to the table on equal terms …”
“Bendy” Conversations and Prayer
“The letter ‘resh’, used to symbolise the feast, is a bendy letter – reminding us that we should recall even, perhaps especially, the parts where we recognise we still have a lot to learn about leaning towards God well and following with integrity. In the right to left system of reading and writing, ‘resh’ is a letter that stands open to the future and to others. It reminds us as we move forward, not only to bring our journey under the auspices of God, but to walk with flexibility, vulnerability, and an open heart and mind …”
Some bendy , blowy play