Turkey. Stuffing. Mashed Potatoes. Cranberry Relish. Snicker Salad. Pumpkin Pie. Moscato d’Asti.
My mouth is watering. And somewhere deep in my heart, joy is beginning to bubble as I anticipate the next 48 hours. Thanksgiving.
This is the commencement to the holiday season. This is the day where one plans to nap during the football game. This is the day where we feast. I always thought a feast was a very large, delicious meal. Period.
But I’ve been reading this book called “Sharing Food: Christian Practices For Enjoyment” written by L.Shannon Jung. Sounds silly, no? But, I love eating. And I love reading. It doesn’t get much better than reading a book about food and eating. This book is savory and delicious to read. I’m not very far in the book though, because I’ve been stuck on this chapter about feasting.
And many questions have flooded my mind. Is feasting simply eating and drinking in excess? Where did feasting come from? Why feast? How can I feast when the images of those beautiful children in Mozambique flash in my mind?
I don’t know much about feasting. But this I do know: I’m not alone. Few people in America know much about feasting. Sure, we as a nation know all about excessive eating and drinking. We know gluttony and the lack of self-control. We know what it’s like to sigh loudly, lick your fingers, wishing you wore your stretchy pants to the dining room table.
But I don’t think that’s feasting. L.Shannon Jung wrote, “Feasting is a communal practice of celebration. In the church, and in the culture, feasting has become a rare occurrence because we do not know much about celebrating (except over-celebrating or self-indulging–again, too much alcohol or food or drugs) because we are not comfortable in community. We simply do not delight very well.”
This feasting thing came about many moons before me. The Israelites in the Old Testament had all kinds of feasts: Passover, First Fruits, Unleavened Bread, Feast of Booths, Feast of Weeks, etc. And there were feasts in the New Testament, too. There were wedding banquets, anticipated feasts, and parables about feasts.
Feasting is much more than food. Feasting is about our hearts and our attitudes. It’s about celebration, community, trust, and gratitude. Feasting is “an exuberant recognition of God’s mammoth surplus of love and goodness.” Feasting is about worshiping God. Feasting transforms us. Feasting brings together people, encouraging reconciliation and unity. And when that happens, we get a glimpse of the kingdom of heaven. And that is beautiful.
Thanksgiving is a feast. It’s a time to reflect, delight, worship, share, laugh, encourage, savor. So may this holiday transform you. May celebration and gratitude spring up from within you. May you grow closer to those around you as you share food, stories, and memories. May you laugh and delight in our God because of who He is, not what He gives us. And may you eat slowly, praying for those lying awake because of growling bellies.