Christmas has become, for many, synonymous with feasting and, with a week to go before
Christmas Day, I’m guessing many of us are preparing for feast meals. Celebrating produce,
abundance, and provision, as well as the people that we share those meals with. I love it. The symbolism is brilliant but, honestly, turkey is delicious and roast potatoes can only be from heaven.
Christmas is a big deal in our house. Home Alone is an all-year-round movie option. There is a Christmas song CD in my car at all times! We’re early tree people. There are more festive knitwear options in our wardrobes than any other type or style of clothing. Often a decoration will escape the set down and sneak through somewhere obscure in the house as a glorious reminder of the most wonderful time of the year. Mince pies are welcomed back into the treat cupboard like relatives returning from far-flung adventures, we’re always glad to see them. We have watched every Christmas cooking show you can think of and will continue the festive devotion to Delia, Jamie, Gordon, Nigel, James and Nigella for as long as they can keep thinking of new ways to share the old recipes.
Food we feast with is important. It is an investment. Food can be a way to show love and express our thanks to those near and dear to us. We choose the better cuts of meat and real butter to celebrate the season.
Food isn’t everyone’s thing and maintaining physical as well as mental and emotional health is important. Celebration and feasting aren’t breaking the rules of health they are included within its boundaries.
We don’t actually ‘wish it could be Christmas everyday’. The escapism of youth, dreaming of
elongated half-terms to enjoy family, friends and chocolate coins forever is tempered with our maturing hopes and dreams of a real, varied and fulfilling life that includes, but isn’t limited to, finding something to do while the Queen’s speech is on.
Our experiences through this time of feasting are shaped by the feasts we have experienced
before, are currently enjoying (or enduring), and the expectations of those to come. Read A
Christmas Carol, or watch a version of it, if you haven’t recently and shape some of your thoughts about past, present, and future Christmases.
Experiencing different feasts and traditions is good for us. Images of snowmen, Santa trains and fairy lights are brilliant but not the universal experience. There are so many other amazing sights, sounds and smells to be found and feasted with. The presence or absence of mashed potatoes on a Christmas dinner plate tells you a lot about someone - invite those discoveries!
Our feasting habits are nostalgia too. They remind us of and reconnect us with people, places, and things no longer peeling, boiling or hiding Brussels sprouts with us.
To embrace the feast is to celebrate, choose availability, invest in relationship, invite, and hold moments of remembrance and share joy.
This year will be a different kind of feast
This year my family feast will look different. It will be other, for the staggeringly mundane and slightly disappointing reason that our current freezer isn’t the same size as last years. We are ‘between houses’ currently and the winter-let we’re in is brilliant but made for a day at the beach rather than storing winter feasts. Our freezer cannot contain what we’d usually have prepared for Christmas, so this year will be a different kind of feast.
You know what you’re reading and knew a turn to Jesus would come. As followers of Jesus our clunky moralising from daily life can be a bit much sometimes so I appreciate you bearing with me, but I do think there’s some value in my preparing for a different kind of feast this year. (Stick some Christmas music on if it’ll help.)
There is a different kind of feast that has been prepared. There is another way to live outside of the violent separation of the quiet of my soul and my ambition. A way of peace and safety. Inclusion and freedom. Apprenticed to The Way we’re not offering tokens or gestures to Ricky Bobby’s Talladega Nights “eight pound, six ounce - newborn baby Jesus”. My hope isn’t in the chorus of the crowd, a politician, or place of tradition.
Life is found through faithful obedience to King Jesus.
King Jesus who rode, ankles dragging from a juvenile donkey, through the ‘wrong’ gate into the city for his execution-coronation.
King Jesus who embraced others in their pain.
King Jesus who washed filthy feet.
King Jesus without the security of a home.
King Jesus who submitted to His Fathers Will.
King Jesus who was anointed by the opulence of broken best.
King Jesus who was threatened and chose peace instead of violence.
King Jesus who forgives after being betrayed.
King Jesus who includes through denial, again and again and again.
King Jesus who was, who is, and who is to come.
King Jesus the Lord of Glory.
King Jesus, the Bread of Life and giver of Living Water, a different kind of feast.
If, like my totally temporary and momentarily annoying freezer problem, you are facing a different kind of feast - eat with Jesus.
There are new memories to be made at this feast. You are welcome at this feast. This table is not about what you can provide, rather what has been provided for you. This feast is not gluttony and excess, it is the ability to give away and share with others without end, lack, threat, jealousy, or comparison. Jesus is the feast, and he invites us to live His different Way.