“O taste and see that the Lord is good …” (Psalm 34:8)
Leaders taste. I am a fan of church potluck suppers. Being nurtured at the Japanese Presbyterian Church in Seattle, I have memories of tables overflowing with sushi and teriyaki chicken. I remember Mom getting up early on Sunday morning to make the dish for the potluck and my mouth watering as we drove to church with the food. Neuroscientists talk about our senses of taste and smell as being our strongest memory triggers.
Jesus ate a lot. In the gospels, it seems that at every turn Jesus was sitting down and eating. From the feeding miracles to eating with sinners to the Last Supper, much of Jesus’ life happened at meals. Theologian Fred Craddock said it was a good thing Jesus walked everywhere because otherwise he would have easily weighed 300 pounds.
For our Jewish and Muslim sisters and brothers, sitting down with others and breaking bread with them is sacred. We Christians are no different. There is something beautiful and powerful when we sit down with others, give thanks for the meal, and then eat together. When we sit down with others and eat with them, we are sharing our lives as well as food. This is what makes the moment so sacred.
Several years ago I was in worship on World Communion Sunday, the day when Christians across denominational lines share in the Lord’s Supper around the globe. I was surprised and delighted when the plate of Christ’s body was passed to me because it held a combination of white bread, dark bread, tortillas, naan, and Korean rice cakes, all in small piles. I took one of the rice cakes and passed the plate on to seven-year-old Miller. He too was clearly surprised by the different breads on the plate. At first, he passed the plate on to his mother, and I was afraid this was too strange for him. But then he told his mom to hold the plate as reached out and took a morsel from each of the piles. He snacked for the rest of the worship service. Later he told me his favorite was the naan. In tasting the different breads, the tortillas, the naan, and the rice cakes, we tasted the goodness of God in Jesus Christ.
Leaders taste. We sit down together and break bread with loved ones and strangers alike. We are welcomed to the table, and we welcome others. And as we eat together, we discover what is sacred and holy once again.
- When was a time you tasted the goodness of God?
- When were you welcomed to a table?
- When did you welcome others to a table?
Rev. Dr. Rodger Nishioka serves as the senior associate pastor and director of adult faith formation at Village Presbyterian Church in Prairie Village, Kansas. Prior to joining the staff at Village Church, he served as a professor of Christian education at Columbia Theological Seminary in Decatur, Georgia.
This article is the ninth in a 12-part series focusing on PC(USA) leader formation as a part of the “Year of Leader Formation: Investing in Ruling Elders and Deacons.” Additional resources are available at www.pcusa.org/leader-formation/.