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Reform Magazine | December 17, 2017

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Chapter & verse: Luke 15: 1-2

Chapter & verse: Luke 15: 1-2

jagessar‘By this time, a lot of men and women of doubtful reputation were hanging around Jesus, listening intently. The Pharisees and religion scholars were not pleased; not at all pleased. They growled: “He takes in sinners and eats meals with them, treating them like old friends.”’

I am writing this whilst in the department of the Gers, France. Here, people really take time and care when it comes to food and eating. In the summer, one can turn up at any local village fête, find a welcome space around a table, enjoy conversation (even with very little French) and delight in eating and drinking without feeling rushed. Food, eating, company and table conversations are at the heart of these communities.

Meals, eating and table fellowship were also at the heart of Jesus’ ministry; many of the most dramatic moments of his life – feeding multitudes, making wine, dining with “sinners” – occurred at mealtimes. Around every corner in the Gospel narratives we meet Jesus at a table, teaching, gathering with his disciples and breaking down barriers of hostility and division. Often, Jesus is around a table with dodgy and questionable characters, living out a theology of a God who throws a wonderful party for all who are needy and lonely, filled with pain, have no place to turn to, and who are thirsty or hungry. It was in such a setting that he appeared to his disciples following his resurrection, and it was Jesus’ table fellowship that formed the Christian community.

Jesus’ choice of table companions, disregard for washing rites before meals, and his unconcern for tithed bread never failed to cause controversy. It can be argued that he literally ate his way to a cross. While he dined with anyone who invited him, the evidence seems to suggest that he intentionally ate with social outcasts of one kind or another, and with people in despised trades: tax collectors, adulterers, prostitutes, extortionists, murderers and idolaters. …

The Revd Dr Michael N Jagessar is moderator of the United Reformed Church General Assembly 2012-14

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This is an extract from the September 2013 edition of  Reform

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