Tonight’s Communal Meal is not elaborate: bread, soup, homemade cookies, milk. A simple supper, fitting and good for an autumn night. But what are we doing, really?
Last year at OPUS, Bryan Kunz (Honors Alumnus, ’11) presented a provisional theology of meals. He began by noting,
The Triune God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit is present and active in our daily meals as host and provider, self-revealing example, and communing…counselor. We come along side this action by living out eucharistic lives and treating every meal in a way similar to how we treat the Eucharist.
Notice how Bryan complicates our sense of who’s present tonight. Some of you couldn’t make it tonight and want to try next month. But judging by the online sign-up sheet, some twenty of you will be lining our long dining table. But Bryan would be quick to point out that there are other guests—or, better, other hosts.
- God the Father welcomes us to the table. It’s not the Mattsons’ table, really. All of us are guests at this table.
- God the Holy Spirit works in us throughout the meal, forming us, gradually, steadily, into the Church.
- Jesus the Son sits with us, in some sense, elbow to elbow at the table.
So, given that astonishing company, how should we eat?
First, we should eat together. Tonight’s simple supper is not just a co-curricular event in partial fulfillment of the requirements of the Honors Program. Tonight’s supper is a way to be the Church. But Bryan goes farther than this immediately communal dimension of dining:
It requires that we eat in a manner that is not only responsible to those at the table with us, but also those throughout the world and our posterity who will eat at the table after us. I believe this means we should eat in such a way that we sacrifice some of what we could have, whether that be in quantity or convenience, so that we can help others as well. Also, this means that we should eat in a way that respects the earth as far as is possible, buying locally and supporting farmers who respect the Lord’s creation.
Here is much to celebrate and argue and simply mull over, not only tonight over our Wisconsin cheese soup, but in the Caf, too, and in the BBC, and anywhere that two or three of us gather in the name of the Christ.