FINDING EMMANUEL IN THE STUFF OF CHRISTMAS
When He was at the table with them,
He took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them.
Then their eyes were opened and they recognised Him…
This week, our house was filled with the spicy baking aroma of Christmas cake. I decided to make an extra-large square one, this year, so I can cut off portions to share—with my hairdresser, whose family doesn’t like fruit cake, with a client who lives on his own, with friends and family…
In the weeks ahead, there are many opportunities to share festive foods, whether in gifts, meals or just coffee with friends. Whether we make them ourselves or buy them in, there is the potential for our seasonal treats to become more than just food, but a means of grace, gateways to those Sabbath Moments mentioned last week, where we can counter seasonal stress by stopping for a while, focusing on Jesus, and offering Him our worship. But they can also be opportunities for us to provide a doorway for others to encounter Him too.
Jesus, the ‘Bread of Life’ was born in Bethlehem, which means ‘the House of Bread’, and was laid in an eating trough. And so it was fitting that He was often recorded conducting His ministry in the context of private meals. Someone once said that ‘people need to belong before they can believe’, and sharing food offers a wonderful invitation to be at home. Eating together provides a context of intimacy in which profound changes can take place, and so we see that while eating with Jesus, people received Kingdom revelation [Acts 1:4-8)], world-views were challenged [Luke 14:1-14; 11:37-53], behaviour changed [Mark 2:15-17], hearts and bodies were healed [Luke 7: 36-50; 14:1-5], and relationships restored [John 21:1-14]. And that it was in the context of a meal that eyes were opened, and the resurrected Jesus was revealed to the grieving disciples at Emmaus (Luke 24:13-35).
DEVELOP YOUR EXPECTATION
If Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever (Hebrews 13:8), we can invite Him to join us in our festive eating. Our food preparation can become a breathing space (see last week’s ‘Grace Rhythm’), an offering of worship to our King, and we can pray that those offerings become a means of grace to others. We can expect to meet Him in our eating…
So, let’s take time to pause in our food preparation, and in our eating, and focus our gaze on Jesus, and give Him our worship. And let’s invite the lonely and the marginalised, and those who haven’t yet met Emmanuel, as well as friends and family to our table. Let’s share our food generously, according to our ability, mirroring the One who has called us to share a feast with Him when He comes in power.
One day we will sit down at the King’s table. Our feasting looks forward prophetically to that day. Let’s pray that our guests, whether Christian or not, will have an inner response to that invitation calling us all home.
These two favourite songs can be applied to our festive tables. Why not take time to listen and be inspired:
THIS WEEK’S GRACE RHYTHM:
Then as you share meals with family and friends, invite Emmanuel to come close and fill the eating-place with His beautiful presence, asking for the Spirit of revelation to open every eye to see Him more clearly. Ask Him to bless every person with a profound sense of belonging and acceptance, and for deep and hidden needs to be met.
And then be expectant…
NEXT WEEK: CARDS AND PRESENTS: GIFTS OF GRACE
[Photo credits: Diliara Garifullina (biscuits); Kate Laine (cake and mug); Brooke Cagle (meal);
Jeshoots (notepaper) @ Unsplash, with thanks]
Da Kraplak (type writer);
Merakist (social media)
@ Unsplash, with thanks]
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