Feasting as a Weapon
‘Tis the season for feasting. On the American calendar, the “holiday season” stretches from the end of November through the start of January (a tad longer if you count all of bowl season), and peppered throughout are multiple opportunities to party, make merry, enjoying people and food.
Far too often we either do this mindlessly or even selfishly. In such feasting opportunities, we tend to be either selfish and gluttonous (I want the biggest slab of ham and the last biscuit!), or it’s got guilt covering it like so much turkey gravy (Boy, am I going to be paying for this tomorrow. I know I shouldn’t be eating this….).
I want to encourage you to see these meals and parties as opportunities not just to eat, but to feast, and to be intentional…even strategic in them. But before I attempt to articulate what feasting is, let me first suggest what it isn’t.
What Feasting Isn’t
Feasting is not just gutting through a big meal for sake of the hedonistic consumption of lots of calories. Devouring seven slices of pizza because you can is not feasting. It’s eating as a pastime.
Feasting is not a party for the party’s sake. Getting together just to have a good time is not the same thing as feasting. It has it’s place, to be sure, but a selfish person can party, while a selfish person can’t feast.
Feasting is not an opportunity to TAKE TAKE TAKE. Approaching a mealtime with a greedy heart places the focus inappropriately on persons or plates of potatoes.
What Feasting Is
Feasting is a matter of the heart. Have you ever had a Christmas dinner with a grumpy person? Does it present a different dynamic when the table is full of laughter, and every person acts as if he’s glad to be there? A right heart is necessary for the meal to attain to the level of a feast.
Further, if feasting is a matter of the heart, it follows that the quantity (or even quality) of the food, or the number of place settings does not determine if you’re enjoying a feast or not. A feast of two grateful people trumps a banquet of fifty grumpy gluttons every time.
This means that feasters must work to come to the table with right hearts. Hearts brimming with gratefulness are better prepared to actually enjoy potatoes and pot roast and pumpkin pie. But of course, that takes work. Speaking of work…
Feasting is a lot of work. Breaking out the china (without breaking any china), making the silver shine, slow-roasting the pork, letting the wine breathe, letting the rolls rise, selecting the right playlist for the background music (You really need Bing Crosby and Mannheim Steamroller and George Winston and Harry Connick Jr. and a little Tchaikovsky), and (as mentioned above) getting your heart right all take time and energy. Then there’s the added work of cleaning up afterward. But there’s no question that the work involved is worth it. An hours-long expression of thanksgiving and merriment and enjoyment of God’s good gifts is work, but it’s certainly worthwhile.
Feasting is weapon. So, taking this all together, we can see that feasting is a weapon wielded by worshipers who wish to please our Heavenly Father. It’s not hard to imagine God delighting in His people’s merry enjoyment of one another and the good gifts He’s given.
I’m a father, and there are few things that make me happier than when my children are enjoying one another while enjoying something I’ve given them. Let’s say I’ve given them a fun board game, and they’re having a blast and really enjoying each other while playing the game. If I had enemies who hated me and my children, they would find that sort of party especially aggravating. Likewise, when we gather around the dining room table (or picnic table, or wherever) with grateful hearts and a pile of good food and smiles on our faces and grace in our speech, the Father smiles…and the devil shudders.
Feasting is a cultural statement. When we do all of this, we are loudly stating that God is the source of the gifts we enjoy, and our enjoyment of them is an act of obedience (1 Timothy 4:1-5).
So when you’re ladling out punch at the next Christmas party, may a twinkle in your eye and a smile playing at the corner of your lips reflect the joy of your Father…and an awareness that the gifts you enjoy are from him.
And don’t skimp on the whipped cream.
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