Imagine this with me: God sitting back watching us humans clumsily trying to figure out how to exist in creation. How long do you think God had to anxiously wait for us to figure out pizza could be a thing if we just put tomatoes and grains and cheese together? God was so excited for us to get to experience the delight of pizza that it took all of God’s will power not to just shout the recipe from heaven. And that’s just pizza. What foods is God still waiting for us to figure out?
Food must be one of the “good” things God wants us to experience, because you can imagine God could have created a world in which we didn’t have to eat to survive. But this isn’t what God chose to do, is it? Which means, God must think there’s something special about food and meal preparation.
We get a sense of what that is in Acts 2, which is about the formation of the Church. Verse 42 reads, “The believers devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, to the community, to their shared meals, and to their prayers.” And verse 46 reads, “Every day, they met together in the temple and ate in their homes. They shared food with gladness and simplicity.” The first Christians understood eating was so important that they decided whatever Christianity was going to involve, they knew it needed to involve eating together.
What does God find so special about food? It’s our entrance into the life of fellowship. Meals are occasions for intimacy with other creatures and with the Creator. By choosing to create a world in which eating is necessary for survival, God made sure all of creation would stay connected. Though we don’t often remember, we are utterly dependent on plants and animals. So, it turns out fellowship and collaboration are hardwired into Creation. God chose to create a world in which eating is the means of life and love.
A really thoughtful pasture-raised theologian named Norman Wirzba says food is the daily exhibition of the nearness of God’s love. Food, he says, is God’s love made delicious and nutritious, so to savor each bite of food is to savor God’s love. None of the tasty things on our plates had to exist, and yet because of God’s love they do, which is why saying grace with each meal is such an important act of gratitude.
The eating we do every day is sacred. The dinner table is sacred space. The time we spend with one another is Communion. Food and drink and conversation and laughter are evidence that heaven is real, and it can be here on earth.