"Let books be your dining table, / And you shall be full of delights. / Let them be your
And you shall sleep restful nights" (St. Ephraim the Syrian).

Monday, October 21, 2019

Let's Eat!

Just this past week in my sacraments class I was talking with my students about the different connotations and implications of what we call our Sunday eucharistic gatherings, and for a thought experiment I was proposing that we reconsider resurrecting the name "love-feast" which, by virtue of being unfamiliar and unused, sounds at the very least more intriguing and perhaps less boring than "Mass" or "Divine Liturgy" or "Holy Communion." I was more serious in proposing to them that we resurrect the practice of having a full meal together (or a very substantial coffee hour, which is in effect a mini-brunch), mentioning how common this is in many Eastern parishes, both Catholic and Orthodox, on a regular basis, where the coffee hour is sometimes referred to as the "eighth sacrament."

Along comes a new book from to advance this discussion in what look to be helpful ways: We Will Feast: Rethinking Dinner, Worship, and the Community of God by Kendall Vanderslice (Eerdmans, 2019), 176pp. About this book the publisher tells us this:
The gospel story is filled with meals. It opens in a garden and ends in a feast. Records of the early church suggest that believers met for worship primarily through eating meals. Over time, though, churches have lost focus on the centrality of food— and with it a powerful tool for unifying Christ’s diverse body.
But today a new movement is under way, bringing Christians of every denomination, age, race, and sexual orientation together around dinner tables. Men and women nervous about stepping through church doors are finding God in new ways as they eat together. Kendall Vanderslice shares stories of churches worshiping around the table, introducing readers to the rising contemporary dinner-church movement. We Will Feast provides vision and inspiration to readers longing to experience community in a real, physical way.

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