The Meals of Scripture (a curriculum preparing for Thanksgiving)

When I was working at Union Grove United Methodist Church, the congregation wanted to have a Bible Study series on the subject of food. My wife works with the wonderful Society of St. Andrew that deals with preventing food waste as a solution to food insecurity, so we are steeped in the Scriptural, sociological, and political dimensions of food in the United States. Out of that experience, I designed a curriculum that focuses on three meals in Scripture as a way of beginning to engage a theological and politics of food from a Christian perspective (significantly grounded in Jewish Scriptures, by the way!). Since we’re a little over a month out from Thanksgiving, I thought it might be an appropriate time to share this curriculum. If you’re looking for something for your congregation or your own personal devotion, I hope you find this 4-week study helpful. Feel free to use it with proper credit given in your own settings.

mealsofscripture
Click image to download!

Here’s the download link for the PDF, and here’s the introduction to the curriculum below (included in the PDF):

One of the most universal human experiences is gathering to eat together. With that in mind, it seems logical that the Bible talks a lot about food. From the food laws in the Torah to the Last Supper in the Gospels, the Scriptures are saturated with mentions, imagines, and practices of eating. Yet, in our world we don’t often reflect on eating – certainly not eating together.

What would it look like to reimagine the ways in which we ate together? What if every act of eating together was a recognition of where we’ve been, our relationship with creation, our connections with each other, or anticipation of our ultimate heavenly banquet with God? Would that change the way we eat?

This four-week study aims to explore some of those questions while examining the meals of Scripture and meals associated with the Judeo-Christian traditions. We’ll begin with the Passover meal and what sacred meals look like, symbolize, and mean for us today. Then, we’ll look at Sabbath and the Shabbat meals that emerged in the Jewish traditions. We will then move into the most significant meal of the Christian tradition, the Last Supper, and the communion, Eucharist, or Lord’s Supper tradition that came from it. As Paul did in his first letter to the Corinthians, we will in this discussion specifically consider issues of food justice. Finally, we will consider the heavenly banquet alluded to in the New Testament and what it means for our hope and even how we eat today.

In each session (timed for 45 minutes), we will reflect on how we already eat (together and separately), revisit a biblical meal and reflect on it, reinterpret the biblical meal for our current situation, and respond with ways that we could see our lives changing in light of what we discuss.

Each week, we will utilize and reflect on the following Shabbat table prayer.

Blessed are you, Lord our God, Sovereign of the world, who provides food for the entire world in your goodness, with grace, kindness and mercy. You supply bread for all living beings, for your kindness is everlasting. Because of your great goodness, we have never lacked food, nor will we ever lack it on account of your great name. For you are a God who nourishes and sustains all, and is good to all, and who supplies good for all your creatures which you have created. Blessed are you, God, who provides food for all. [1]            

Each week, the prayer will take on a different tone according to the week’s topic. The final week, we will develop our own table blessing.

[1]Adapted from: http://image.aish.com/misc/grace.pdf

 

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