This 2 COVID thing is going to end. And when it does, churches like yours and mine might just hold the secret for pan-societal renewal. Turns out that one of our historical cultural strengths—fellowship fueled by food—might just be the key to restoring vitality to our communities.
Think back: Passover was a post-pandemic event. One of our most sacred practices centers on the redemptive meal instituted by Jesus. The two Emmaus disciples broke bread with an 3 accompanying stranger—realizing that their “hearts burned within them” as they ate together.
I’m thinking here about our coffee hours and cookbooks. Our potlucks, pancake breakfasts and picnics. We know how to draw people together in appreciative conversation during shared meals. With other faith traditions, we’ve worked tirelessly to eliminate hunger—the lack of bread—around the world. We’re panis people!
All this sparks my imagination about what might happen if churches started society’s post-pandemic recovery by sponsoring food-related festivals for their communities. Potlucks on a grand scale. Typical hot-dish meals accompanied by delicious ethnic treats like 4 empanadas or 5 bannock breads. Food pantries available to everyone. Discovering the no-longer-invisible company of like-minded others.
What would come of this? Happy, relaxed interchanges among friends and neighbors. Celebrations of our shared humanity. Working alongside new companions. Gratitude for coming through this pandemic together. Motivation to keep at the difficult tasks of putting our communities back together.
These meals might not be a panacea for all that ails us as a society, but they could slow down the plagues of isolation, mistrust, fear and hate that still afflict us.
What’s most exciting? Those of us who know our way around kitchens, recipes, feeding families and cooking—we could emerge as key ingredients in God’s rescue of people’s lives!
Bread for the world….
1 Panis is the root for a number of words in this entry. Its Latin etymology takes us back to bread—and its many life-giving connections. Not to be confused with the Greek root pan – meaning “all”.
2 This pandemic feels alive, like an evil presence stalking us at every turn. Defying our word choices and decision-making abilities, this family of viruses lives on. For now….
3 Earlier in his ministry, the now-Risen Christ had fed thousands at a single seating, and called himself “The Bread of Life.”
4 Baked or fried pastries stuffed with cheese, meat, vegetables, fruit or other foodstuffs. Empanadas can be found especially in Latin America, Spain, and Portugal. Similar foods are part of diets all around the world.
5 Originally a flat, round Scottish skillet bread made from oats and barley.
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