Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Spinning Plates and spiritual food

I like to watch movies about food.

The other night, Penny and I watched a Netflix documentary called, “Spinning Plates.” I think nearly everyone will find something to like in the film.

It tells the story of three restaurants and the people behind them. Hard-working, loving, creative people.

Each restaurant is different. Breitbach’s Country Dining, in rural Iowa, has been in the Breitbach family for four generations now.  La Cocina de Gabby is a Mexican restaurant in Tucson. Alinea, in Chicago, was named the Best Restaurant in North America and received three stars in the Michelin Red Guide.

Spinning Plates reminds me how important food is.

A meal unites people. A restaurant staff works hard—16 hours a day or more--and in unison to prepare the food and serve it. Diners come together to enjoy the meal. A meal sustains people. We must eat to live. A meal is often the setting for celebration—a wedding anniversary, a graduation or a baptism.

A meal can also be a way to find support in a hard time, such as after the death of someone close to us. People often gather after a funeral for a reception or a formal meal. We remember the departed, telling stories of him or her; and often that person seems alive and present. We hug and cry and sometimes laugh. We share not only the food, but also our grief, and we gain strength from one another for living with and through loss.

In the Gospels, notice how many times Jesus and his disciples are having a meal—at the wedding feast in Cana in Galilee, at the miraculous feeding of the five thousand, at the Passover on the night before his death; and, then, at the breakfast by the shore when the resurrected Jesus appears to his grief-wearied disciples during a meal of grilled bread and fish.

Meals not only nourish us physically but also spiritually. Watch Spinning Plates and see how food brings life, how a meal transforms people and communities. (“Babetts’s Feast” is another of those films that is about far more than food.)

For Episcopalians, the greatest meal--and one infinitely superior even to a meal at a three-star Michelin restaurant--is the Holy Eucharist. 

In the Eucharist, the Living Christ, our host, welcomes us. We come to the table needing nourishment and companionship, his and one another’s. He feeds our spiritual bodies with the Word of God (the Scripture readings and the sermon) and with the bread and wine, which become the living presence of Jesus through the power of God the Holy Spirit.

As our physical bodies are enlivened through a meal, so our spiritual bodies are enlivened through this spiritual meal of the Holy Eucharist. 

Even though you’re meeting your physical needs, you’re still missing something, and you can’t quite articulate it.

A sense of wonder? A connection to something bigger than you yourself? The experience that you are loved unconditionally and forever? A feeling of belonging? Hope that is beyond this world? Purpose outside of the ordinary? Wealth that never loses value, but always gains it? Peace that passes all understanding?

You won’t need a reservation for this holy meal. You’ll always find your place at the Lord’s table. And although there won’t be any spinning plates, the meal served here from that silver paten (and chalice) will be one that will satisfy your deepest hungers.