My meals are a lot quieter than they used to be. Almost every day, I would eat lunch with my coworkers and friends. We always laughed around our lunch table, filling the cafeteria with happy noise. We shared in the joy of pregnancy that followed deep struggle and loss, of new opportunities for work and creativity, of vacations or work trips we would take together. All of that was swept out from under our feet on March 18th, 2020. No more lunch table. This meal, of course, wasn’t the only one affected by this new world. Saturday morning breakfast with my roommate is now confined to our apartment. Evening dinners out with friends were stolen by a virus. And more than all of this, the Lord’s Supper, our corporate reminder of our unity, is indefinitely on pause.
This virus is a thief.
Whether or not you have a lunch table that you miss or a breakfast place you long to visit, your meals are different than they used to. Communal life shared with the breaking of bread is now confined to the members of your home. There are blessings in this, of course. You may, like me, have slowed your pace, learned new recipes, and been more disciplined in your eating habits. You may enjoy the extra time spent with roommates, family members, or time spent alone. But you know it doesn’t feel right. We’re all singing along with Andrew Peterson in our hearts:
Do you feel the world is broken? We do.
Do you wish that you could see it all made new? We do.
This virus is a gift.
Can something both steal and give at the same time? I think so, but only if we start in the beginning.
In Genesis 2:16-17, God gives Adam and Eve the whole garden full of perfect foods, save one. But they were deceived into thinking that what they had wasn’t enough, so Adam and Eve shared in the first broken meal in history. They ate, and all seemed ruined (Genesis 3:6-7). Countless meals after this one were tainted by our sinfulness. We ate as gluttons, as idol-worshippers, as wanderers, thieves, and liars. We long for bread that can stop our endless hunger, but every time we eat, it sustains us for a few hours only until our stomachs tell us we are still not satisfied.
What bread would be enough for us? Fruit from a tree, manna from heaven, or meals with a friend can fill us for a time, but will only make us grumble all the more. The gifts themselves are insufficient.
If we know the Giver, then we will be able to receive it all as the gift it is intended to be.
“Jesus said to them, ‘Truly I tell you, Moses didn’t give you the bread from heaven, but my Father gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is the one who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.’
Then they said, ‘Sir, give us this bread always.’
‘I am the bread of life,’ Jesus told them. ‘No one who comes to me will ever be hungry, and no one who believes in me will ever be thirsty again.’” - John 6:32-35
Jesus is the never-hunger-inducing bread. Jesus broke his body and poured out his blood so that we would never know hunger or thirst. He is the Giver of life, and life abundant.
While the world is in a collective season of waiting and longing, we all have a choice to make. Do we only recognize that this virus has taken comfort from us? Or do we also look to Jesus and see that He has given us a great gift? He is allowing the comfort of a communal meal to be taken from us so that our longings might be put in their proper place. It is not sinful to long for the day when we can eat together again. We must first look to the Giver and acknowledge that only He can satisfy all our longings. If we never sit at our lunch table again, if Saturday breakfast is a memory for as long as breath is in my lungs, if every restaurant closes permanently, I am sure that those who are in Christ will still feast. Only by taking Christ can we look toward that final day with hope.
“Then I heard something like the voice of a vast multitude, like the sound of cascading waters, and like the rumbling of loud thunder, saying,
Hallelujah, because our Lord God, the Almighty, reigns! Let us be glad, rejoice, and give him glory, because the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his bride has prepared herself. She was given fine linen to wear, bright and pure. For the fine linen represents the righteous acts of the saints.
Then he said to me, ‘Write: Blessed are those invited to the marriage feast of the Lamb! He also said to me, ‘These words of God are true.’” - Revelation 19:6-9
These words of God are true. They are a promise. We have an invitation sealed with blood that guarantees our arrival.
We will feast in the House of Zion.
We will sing with our hearts restored.
“He has done great things” we will say together.
We will feast and weep no more.