By Joyell Nevins
When is a meal more than just a meal? When God’s people are in the midst.
In the beginning of Acts, right after Pentecost and Peter’s rousing speech, 3,000 souls became born again (meaning they received the Word of God, repented of their sins, and declared Jesus Christ their Lord and Savior). This is what we call the “birthday of the church.” The end of Acts 2 describes what this new church did to stay strong in their faith and build community:
“And they continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers. And fear came upon every soul: and many wonders and signs were done by the apostles. And all that believed were together, and had all things common; And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need. And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart, Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.” Acts 2:42-27 KJV
That’s a busy church! Let’s look at it again, and I would like to call attention to a particular activity:
“And they continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers…And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart…” Acts 2:42-27 KJV
Breaking bread is an archaic way of saying – they ate together. I remember one of the Fellow Laborers putting it this way – “I have to eat, and you have to eat, so why don’t we eat together?” It’s amazing the good things that can come out of just sitting down and sharing a meal.
I saw this recently in my own kitchen, when a small group of fascinating friends and relatives gathered around my table. It was a tight squeeze, but no one seemed to mind the need to maneuver or the wall decorated with my online elementary classroom materials.
The food wasn’t fancy, a potato casserole (think Pastor Tonia’s famous surprise potatoes!) and stuffed chicken, but the warmth and comfort of those dishes in the slightly warm and cramped space of my kitchen opened hearts and sparked conversation.
We didn’t have anywhere to be or crowds to speak over, and my guests were just able to be themselves. I saw facets of them I hadn’t seen before, and heard their stories from new perspectives. I loved observing these friends and family have a space to see and be seen for who they truly are – to be able to feel comfortable in their own skin without competition or comparison.
Stories were shared, testimonies abounded, and laughter filled the room. And the best part – God was glorified! It’s amazing to me what a simple meal and a listening ear can do. Jesus did some of his best ministering around the table…and it’s even how the Emmaus believers recognized him.
“When he [Jesus] was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight.” Luke 24:30-31 NIV
And when the conversation includes opportunities for testimonies, even better. We are encouraged by not only hearing how God works for others – if He can do it for you, He can do it for me, too, right? – but also being reminded of our own stories. In Revelations, sharing testimonies was part of the way the dragon (devil) was defeated.
“And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony…” Revelations 12:11
Sitting across from my friend, her face lit up with joy as she told how God had worked in a situation, I thought: “this is what it’s all about.” What better place to be than with people I care about, meeting people that they love, all sharing stories of our lives and the goodness of God?
As a bonus, we got to end the night in prayer, prophesy, and song (you know it’s God when you think it, but someone else brings it up!). It was such a time of fun and fulfillment.
I’ve seen this miracle move time and time again. The setting and cuisine are sidelines compared to the people you’re with, and the conversation you’re willing to go deep into. God is ready and willing to work anywhere – let’s make the table one of those places!