John the Baptist, the voice of one crying in the wilderness: Prepare the way of the Lord. He’s a strange character – Locusts and Wild Honey! What a diet. Relationships between many things are changing. This is especially noticeable at Christmas. The relationship between the winter festival and the celebration of Christmas for example. Cadbury have claimed the rights to Advent Purple – we won’t be paying royalties!! As the climax of the consumer year draws in we watched retailers jumping upon another bandwagon – Black Friday – in an attempt to get shoppers spending a few days earlier and perhaps just a little bit more. Governments suggesting that a good retail season might stimulate our economy – then the words of caution – was it not such an economy based upon cheap credit that got us into this mess in the first place?
And all the while we are all expected to live up to the image of a ‘proper Christmas’. Which is what exactly? The Dickensian dream? A small child with his or her nose pressed to the frosted toy shop window dreaming of the train set or rocking horse contained within? I’m not sure that ever actually existed. And still there is the voice crying out in the wilderness. Will it ever have a home? John ate Locusts and Wild Honey? What about our Christmas meal? The traditional Christmas lunch and traditional Christmas family row in the afternoon. Why is this? Is it perhaps that few families actually sit down to eat a meal together the rest of the year and those few occasions become stressful?
Our relationship with food changes when we move from eating socially to merely eating to fuel our bodies. Food is one of the great Christmas commodities, but lately i’m not sure I can remember an advert for food that didn’t focus on the price, how cheap it was, rather than the good it might do us or where it came from or what was in it even. We are being sold a dream, not food.
So what will you be eating? Locusts and wild Honey? I hear deep fried locusts are great and wild Honey is better for us – especially local honey. But there might not be a rush on these this Christmas!
A friend said once “There is little that I do that does not involve food in some way” Great sentiment. To elevate the nourishment of our bodies and soul to the centre of everything. It becomes a peg to hang the rest of life on. We meet, share a meal and feed not only our bodies, but our minds and others as well. When we eat in isolation we just visit the fuel pump. Thomas Moore writing in Resurgence wrote: “Food makes community at a profound spiritual level – eating together is communion, a commingling of our souls.” No wonder that many writings of Jesus are set around a meal table or with food involved somewhere – food was a social thing. And in our Eucharist we focus in at the heart of the matter – the bread and the wine. Have we neglected some of the preparation though? Do we come as individuals or do we come to receive that together as if we are one community – sitting down to Christmas dinner. Prepare the meal together, prepare for the meal together – not at the last minute, but as if it is the last meal we will ever share together. Restore the relationship between Christmas and our community and we might not be just another voice crying in the wilderness.
Drawing on an earlier writing Relations