Common Grace at Emmaus Church

On the first day of 2012 our community participated in something that, from the beginning of the Church, has been a big part of the Christian experience: we’ve shared a meal. We gathered around tables with others and we’ve shared food.
We came together as people who share a common need: we all need nourishment; and a common solution: food.
Isn’t it interesting how the same basic experience: eating, can happen in such a wide variety of ways?
On one level, eating can be a very basic, almost primal experience where I’m just filling a tank with fuel so I can keep going. Like a distance runner, I’m just taking in calories.
Or, on another level, a far higher level, eating can be an experience that feeds far more than my stomach: a meal can feed me emotionally, maybe even spiritually.
Eating can be an experience that just provides calories and eating can be an experience that provides so much more than calories: it can encourage me, it can provide comfort that’s far beyond the physical.
Here’s a question to begin 2012:
What is it that turns a simple meal from something that fills a stomach to something that fills a soul? Why is it that sometimes after I eat, I feel like I can exist another few hours, and other times, after I eat, I feel like I can change the world? What’s the variable that changes a meal from something that makes me feel full to something that makes me feel loved?
I think it’s community. It’s relationships. It’s others.
You and I share the same basic need: we need calories.
You and I share the same basic solution: food.
I think this is fascinating: you and I can individually address our same needs with the same solutions and have one kind of experience.
Or we can collectively address our same needs with the same solutions together and have a completely different kind of experience.
You can say, man I’m hungry. I’m gonna eat a burger.
And I can say, man I’m hungry. I’m gonna eat a burger.
And we can go to different burger joints and in 30 minutes we’ll both be full.
Or you can say, man I’m hungry. And I can say, man I’m hungry. And we can say, Let’s go get burgers together. And in 30 minutes something more than just the taking-in of fuel has happened. Community has happened.
And because of community we’ve at least opened up the opportunity for something more:
Instead of just existing, we’ve had a chance to make a difference.
Instead of feeling full, perhaps now we feel loved.
Instead of just feeding our stomachs, maybe we’ve also fed our souls.
The Bible is just full of food. But it’s not really about the food.
I suggest it’s about Christian community: people of different races, different backgrounds, different experiences, all gathering together with a common condition, with a common need, a common hunger, a common longing… all coming to the same place hoping to be filled – not just physically, but emotionally, spiritually, holistically: body, mind, soul.
Here’s the point:
We gather as a Christian community for something none of us can get by ourselves. We came here for something we can only get from another. We came here for grace.
Our Emmaus teaching theme for 2012 is Common Grace.
This year we’ll talk a lot about food and eating and Christian community and Jesus’ teachings about relationships and raising kids and working through conflict and learning from those who are older and from those who are younger and this thing we all have in common which is a desperate need for grace… and the beautiful message of the gospel of Jesus which is that this unlimited grace is offered to all.
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