YOU ARE WHAT YOU EAT
An editorial from Monte McClain
Pastor, Fruitvale Presbyterian Church
Eat, Pray, Love. Omnivore’s Dilemma. Supersize Me. Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. These are some of the names of recent best-selling books that talk about how we eat as Americans and why we do so. The general consensus includes the following conclusions on our eating habits: We eat too much. We eat badly. Most things contain massive amounts of sugars, and not even natural ones at that. We eat a ton of processed food, meaning food that has been artificially and industrially created – most of the time from derivatives of corn. Instead of eating food that naturally grows in a given season, we want to be able to eat whatever we fancy, whenever we want, and for a cheap price. There may be a direct relationship between how much processed and industrial food we over-eat and our skyrocketing rates of health problems, obesity, and general societal malaise. These authors preach to us the all too common saying, “you are what you eat.”
At the beginning of the New Year we commonly make resolutions. We want to be better, to improve, to stick with the commitments that we made in 2007, but somehow managed to give up on during the last twelve months. Our resolutions are about improving our lives and livelihood, the way we feel in general, and most likely the way we feel about ourselves. We want to lose weight, to work out, to be stronger, to stop bad habits, to begin good ones. In general our society tells us repeatedly and consistently that “we are what we do.”
One of the foundational experiences in Christian worship is the celebration of communion. Along with baptism, we followers of Jesus believe it to be a unique way we somehow experience – or see visibly – the love and grace of God in Christ which is an invisible reality and truth. Our worship space is marked first and foremost by the baptism font and the communion table. For it’s at the font and through the water that we experience a rebirth, an entry into Christian community, our connection to other followers of Jesus and even God himself. It’s around the communion table that we experience God’s love anew, participating in God’s great unfolding drama for all of humanity and the entire universe. It’s in sharing a meal together – not just any meal – and one containing neither high fructose corn syrup nor hydrogenated fats – that is the visual expression of both the extent of God’s love for us and our connection to each other as disciples participating in God’s mission of grace, freedom and community for all of creation. All of this is happening while we share the meal Jesus gave us, a simple sacramental meal of bread & juice together.
In January in worship (at Fruitvale Presbyterian Church) we’ll be celebrating Communion each Sunday as our way of wrestling with the meaning of communion and our experience of it as a post-modern, intergenerational and multicultural community of followers of Jesus. Each week will be slightly different, seeking to expand our personal understanding and our communal experience of the Lord’s Supper. For God tells us something radically different than both our current best-sellers and our culture in general. At the Table we remember that God says to us, “You are my beloved! You become what I have given you to eat together!” I hope you can join us for this month-long experiment and experience of communion in worship!
- Happy New Year to you and yours,