I’m reading a really great book called Good Food: Grounded Practical Theology by Jennifer R. Ayres (I love that…”grounded” practical theology…get it? “Grounded”…talking about food!). Ayers is Assistant Professor of Religious Education at Candler School of Theology at Emory University. So far the book is about the ethics of food practices through the lens of Eucharistic Christian theology. In the introduction she makes a direct connection between our faith and the food we eat:
In the midst of very powerful and death-dealing forces in the global food system, the table around which Christians regularly gather—the Lord’s Table—stands as a witness to God’s abundance, God’s presence in the material gifts of the earth, God’s delight in the nourishment and enlivening of earthly bodies. Each time we share the bread and cup, we testify to God’s presence in the simple acts of eating and drinking together.
Folks may be getting tired of hearing about Eucharist after five weeks of hearing about it in sermons, teaching a class about it, and writing about it here. But, as we head into the season of “Thanks-giving” in the U.S., it is hard not to be mindful of tables and food.
Ayres, I think, invites us to consider our part in the global food system that seems to be under threat by very strong governmental and corporate powers. She also invites us, I think, to consider the table around which we celebrate the hope God has given us through Jesus, the table of Communion (coming together) and Eucharist (giving thanks). As we consider the food we eat, Ayres also invites to consider that “A grounded practical theology of food requires knowing, touching, and caring about real people, the death, and its wondrously diverse cultures.” She goes on the book to connect our food to issues of immigration, economics, and complicity in systems of injustice.”
“This way of thinking about food,” she writes, “requires a perpetual return to the table, where partakers of the sacred meal are fed, bonds are reestablished, and imaginations are ignited.”
What a thing to ponder as we enter this season of giving thanks and with All Saints’ Day just behind us when we celebrate our connection to the saints of the past and present who have shown us the way to connection with God.