Awe came upon everyone, because many wonders and signs were being done by the apostles. All who believed were together and had all things in common; they would sell their possessions and goods and distribute the proceeds to all, as any had need. Day by day, as they spent much time together in the temple, they broke bread at home and ate their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having the goodwill of all the people. And day by day the Lord added to their number those who were being saved. Acts 2:43-47
It was January in Michigan and we were experiencing a very intense winter. Bitter cold temperatures and record snowfall had become our normal. This particular Sunday we had gotten the exciting news that due to the weather, the seminary would be closed the next day — snow day! Let me say, snow days when you are 27 and in seminary are just as exciting as when you are 8 and in elementary school. When class was cancelled my housemate, Emily, decided it was the perfect excuse to invite some people over for a meal. She said she would make curry. YUM.
Word got around that we were hosting lunch and the next day our small apartment had upwards of 30 folks gathered to eat. Emily made curry and all of our guests brought something to share. Along with curry we had crackers and cheese, apples and peanut butter, chips and salsa, hot chocolate, orange juice, and whatever else people could find in their refrigerators or pantries. It was an eclectic spread.
Our small home was filled with a somewhat strange blend of smells, fun music, and so much laughter. As the wind whipped around outside and snow kept falling and falling, we ate with glad and sincere hearts, everyone bringing what they had and we shared all things.
That cold January day, God tasted like curry, apples and peanut butter, and hot chocolate. When I think about the passage above, I have to imagine that the taste of bread reminded the people of God. Of goodness. Of abundance. Of faithfulness and generosity. In the same way that when I ate curry that afternoon surrounded by some of the best people, I knew I was tasting the very goodness of God.
I wonder if you have tasted God in this way. Perhaps after a loved one died and a neighbor brought you a casserole and that casserole tasted like hospitality. Or maybe some friends threw you a birthday party and the chocolate cake tasted like friendship and joy. And sometimes the spices and flavors of a dish remind us that the world is filled with wonderful diversity, a wide variety of culture that God invites us to celebrate with our taste buds.
For a long time in my life I associated food with shame. It was rare that I would really taste and enjoy what I was eating. Sometimes I chose not to eat for fear of what the food might do to my body. In the United States we have some skewed narratives about food. We are quick to label some foods good and others bad and we measure our goodness and worth by portion size and calorie counts. I don’t think this is how God imagined us breaking bread together or eating with glad and generous hearts.
God is not a God of shame or scarcity but of goodness and abundance. So it seems to me that to know God through our senses, particularly our sense of taste, it matters that we practice enjoying what we eat. I think there is an invitation to eat food that brings delight to our senses as well as an invitation to enjoy food with others. I have heard countless people say that one of the things they have missed most during this pandemic is sharing meals with others. We know God around a table. We experience God in what we eat and how we care for our bodies.
Our relationships with food can be complex and layered and there is no one easy and right way to move forward. I think the invitation here is to slow down. To savor the taste on our lips and the relationships around the table and imagine that God might taste like an eclectic spread of all we have to offer. That instead of certain foods tasting like shame and others like weight loss, they might taste like abundance and hospitality and joy and the very goodness of God.