Tuesday, January 14, 2014

The Meal

One thing that has continuously impressed me is the overwhelming hospitality of people of Chinese descent, both here in the US and in Asia. The following, from January of 2006, is an example of that hospitality.

Yesterday was Saturday. I made the hour drive from southwest Houston to Spring, Texas for an evening with friends. A year ago, I began studying the Bible with a Chinese gentleman in our congregation's FriendSpeak program. FriendSpeak offers lessons in conversational English through a study of the Gospel of Luke, formatted in an easy to read version. My student, Bin, has proficient English skills so we studied directly from the New Testament. Bin is employed by a Taiwanese subsidiary of Hewlett-Packard and is working on his doctoral dissertation in electrical engineering at the University of Houston. Last summer, he moved from the neighborhood where our church building is located to Spring, along with his wonderful wife, Joan, and their full of life four-and-one-half year old son. On Thursday, Bin called and asked if I would join them for dinner. I was delighted. The five hours we spent together flew by. In many ways, they are typical of many young families. Bin's job is long and he has work-related conference calls on most nights. Joan, a high school Chinese Literature teacher in her native land, is enrolled in college courses in hopes of becoming a nurse. Their little boy, as energetic as you will find, is in pre-kindergarten and can count to one thousand. Bin and Joan spent several hours preparing a traditional Chinese meal. Feast would be a more accurate term! Flounder, shrimp, cooked peanuts, three vegetable dishes, a chive casserole, dumplings, and rice were topped off by sesame cookies, apples and oranges. I was stuffed! (Like many children who are from one culture and growing up in the United States, their child is as much American as Chinese. I asked if he liked rice and the answer was an emphatic "NO!" When I inquired as to his favorite food, the reply was an enthusiastic, "HOT DOGS!") It was as gracious a meal as I have ever been blessed to enjoy! Bin and Joan opened their home and treated me as royalty. Meals have a way of bridging cultural and language barriers and in the process, cementing friendships.

Today is Sunday. I shared a different meal today with my Chinese brothers and sisters in our congregation. My role in our Chinese worship is to preside over the Lord's Supper and offer (hopefully) a few appropriate, thought provoking remarks. We do this every week to remember the sacrifice of our Savior, Jesus Christ, on the cross. This menu is simple, unleavened bread and grape juice, but its meaning is profound. Holidays and celebrations throughout human history have centered around common meals and the Christian does the same. Words in various dialects may be spoken around this table but there is one common language- LOVE. Jesus was condemned by religious leaders of his day for eating with sinners. Eating together implies equality. Many of the civil rights struggles were over the integration of eating establishments. Sitting down and eating with another is fellowship; fellowship is brotherhood. Those I shared communion with today are fellow brothers and sisters- and fellow sinners. Yesterday, I accepted Bin and Joan's invitation to dine. Today, we accepted the invitation of the most gracious host of all, Jesus Christ.

Applicable quote of the day:
"Sharing food with another human being is an intimate act that should not be indulged in lightly."

M.F.K. Fisher

God bless,
Luke 18:1

E-mail me at steve@hawleybooks.com


JKC said...

Sharing a meal with others truly is a universal way of showing our love & friendship. I enjoy so much the opportunities we have to share meals with our brethren (and often those who are not yet our brethren) in India.

I am so thankful that you give emphasis to the Lord's supper with special remarks. This is something that should be the main part of the worship anywhere, yet so often in the USA, I see that the Lord's supper appears to be more of an afterthought than the special occasion that it should be. We truly see a lot of emphasis given to the Lord's supper when we worship with the brethren in India. It means so much.

Jon said...

sounds great

Devin Turner said...

Hey coach i hope that you have a great weekend and stay safe!

Bin said...

Steve, your student may wish you feel safe with us.
We like your blog. We are looking forward to having more talk with you.