The thing about getting married at the age of 22 is that you tend to have way more kitchen equipment than any of your peers. There may exist somewhere in the universe a more efficient way of acquiring non-garbage knives, pots, pans, cutting boards, and small appliances, but if science has found it, no one told me. Sidney and I got married the week after I graduated from undergrad, and when we made our wedding registry, we mostly selected cooking implements. Our families and friends showed tremendous generosity and set us up. Nearly 15 years later, most of what we use to cook with comes either from our wedding or the hand-me-downs that we got, when we moved into our first apartment.

Since we had all this stuff, I decided to put it to use. I established Family Dinner. The “Dinner” part of Family Dinner takes its traditional meaning. I and whoever wants to help cook an evening meal. Over the years, this has become me pushing myself as a cook to pull off things that I would never do for just me and Sidney. The “Family” part of Family Dinner focuses on connections beyond biology. For Family Dinner, I gather my Found Family - the friendships that have become so integral to my life that biological origin ceases to matter. This tradition started when I lived a thousand miles from home and any of my genetic family. Even now that I’m back in Houston, Family Dinner remains a celebration of the connections that we’ve chosen to make.

I started all of this before I had much theological language, but Family Dinner has ended up my attempt to reclaim a more original concept of Communion. Over the millennia, the Lord’s Supper evolved to a high structured and symbolic meal. This gives it weight and gravitas commensurate with its importance. It’s a sacrament that Christ establishes. John Wesley describes it as a “means of Grace.” From the Methodist perspective, we believe that the Holy Spirit shows us, when we receive the bread and the juice. One of the ways that we Christians denote importance is through formal feeling ceremony. Thus, Communion, as something hugely important, gets appropriately formalized.

At this point, it’s not much of a meal though. At the end of the journey to Emmaus is a meal – a communion meal. Here, we get to be in on the joke as much as the First Century audience. So often, we miss obvious references and allusions because the over twenty centuries separate us from the original context. At Emmaus, Luke wants us to see the connection with the Lord’s Supper, and we can pick up the clues. “When he was at the table with them, he took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. Then their eyes were opened, and they recognized him; and he vanished from their sight.” (Luke 24:30-31 NRSV) And, “Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he had been made known to them in the breaking of the bread.” We know this rhythm of “took, blessed, and broke.”  We use it in our own Communion liturgy. In describing the Last Supper, Luke uses that same set of steps, “Then he took a loaf of bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, ‘This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.’” (Luke 22:19 NRSV) In setting up that linguistic parallel, Luke makes the connection explicit. The presence of the Lord at that table connects the two events.

Particularly in Luke’s Gospel, Jesus spends a lot of time eating. He eats with sinners, dines with friends, and even eats some cooked fish to prove he’s not a ghost. He feeds the 5,000. He joins a wedding feast at Cana. And, when he wants to setup up a way for us to connect to him even after he ascends, he gathers his best friends around a table and builds a liturgy out of what would have always been at the table, bread and wine. One can grasp why Communion holds such a sacred place, but maybe, all meals, eaten in community and love hold their own sacred status. We have to eat. We can choose, as Christ often did, to eat together.

We seem to know this intuitively. Churches spend a lot of their lives in meal preparation and serving. Our church does it every Sunday, but every church has their potlucks, wedding receptions, post-funeral meals, church picnics, Wednesday night dinner, and Mother’s Day brunches. As I’ve moved through the world and experience many difference denominations, they all say that same things about themselves, “We [insert any denomination] love to eat.” They say it proudly and believe that they’re unique in it. They’re not, though. We all love to eat. I argue that part of why we love it isn’t just that food tastes good but that Christ shows up. We jokingly call the potluck the “third sacrament.” I think that it’s the second one properly understood. God shows up, when we do the formal version of the Lord’s Supper in the middle of a worship service. God equally shows up, when we gather at the table. The warmth that we feel does not simply emanate from a full stomach but from the presence of God in our midst. We know God in the breaking of the bread.