Advent: Mealing

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Through Advent I will be sharing some thoughts pertaining to how the weekly lectionary scriptures are speaking into our family and the families we gather with every week.

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The calling “Come, let us go up into the mountain of the Lord” is found and referred to throughout the passages for this week (Isaiah 2:1-5, Psalm 122). Isaiah is writing to Israelites who were recently freed from the daily demands of Egypt but not yet certain what life should look like outside of the life of slavery. Isaiah calls them to begin to learn “new ways and walk new paths,” or in other words, to live as if God’s promises of peace and justice were already fully delivered. The mountain was a place of re-imagination for how to live. It was a place of sabbath…where production ceased and promises were remembered. 

Isaiah is calling for a break from the “normal.” A pause in routine. An intentional practice of a different kind. To see sabbath through Isaiah’s eyes will reframe what we think of as worship. Rather than a trip to a local steeple for more of the same (consumption), this “going to the mountain” is leaving consumption and acts of self-preservation behind.

Our sabbath practice started as a simple invite to gather for a meal. A few families with a common story choosing to break from routine, eat together, and listen to one another. One meal turned into a pattern of “let’s meet again next week.” It finally dawned on us what is happening. A common people with common stories were gathering at a common table with common food. This is common-ity. A community of multiple generations and backgrounds gathering around a common practice of a shared meal. I like to call it the practice of mealing. It is a sabbath practice. 

Isaiah’s calling to sabbath was not a calling to worship, it was a calling to remember creation and the neighbor. Or as Brueggemann writes, “Sabbath is an occasion for community enhancement, for eating together and remembering and hoping and singing and dancing and telling stories – all exercises that have no production value…” (The Common Good pg 27). 

Our forming community is not unlike the community of people to whom the poet Isaiah was writing. A people who have escaped an enslaved life and been given the gift of freedom to re-imagine what life can be. Our enslavement was to the patterns of busyness, over-consumption of goods and services, debts, mindless entertainment, and the “airy claims of church and state” (Wendell Berry’s beautiful phrase). In other words, we too were once governed by other powers and are now called to “Come to the mountain” and learn from the Giver of life. 

Perhaps today we can hear Isaiah’s call in a new way…Come, let us gather together learning new practices. The practices of mealing, serving, storying with one another. Come, let us gather together and be neighborly. Come, let us gather together and eat, knowing there is enough for all.  

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