We regularly eat meals with others to invite them into the community of God
Meals are a daily reminder of our common need for God and his faithfulness to provide both physically and spiritually. Our hunger and thirst remind us that we are not self-sufficient. We have a need for food and water that must be met outside of ourselves. This physical need points our hearts to deeper spiritual needs--we have a hunger for intimacy, satisfaction, reconciliation, and more that can only truly be met by Jesus. He called himself both the Bread of Life and the Living Water--consuming him, taking him into you, means there's a sense in which we will never be hungry or thirsty again.
Jesus called us to remember him and his sacrifice for us through a meal. When we eat together, we commune around this truth. We regularly eat meals with those not in our immediate family or circle of close friends, discipling them toward a life of dependence on God.
In the story of Adam and Eve in the garden, they had to make a decision of faith everytime they ate food. Will we choose to trust God or choose our own way? God intended for them to face this choice, to exercise faith in him many times everyday--that opportunity to choose God was part of the goodness of the garden of Eden.
So as we eat meals many times a day, there are opportunities not only to thank God for our food but to thank him for Jesus and to commune with him, opportunities to let faith in Jesus affect everyday life. There are few things we do more often and regularly than eating. As we allow the gospel to change how we eat, the gospel breaks into everyday life and is proclaimed to those around us.
Dean - Wilson High School Area, Tacoma
My family and I have a house that is small, but a yard that is big. If we want to have neighbors over to eat, it's almost as if one of us has to sit on the toilet to fit! So we decided to have a breakfast meal in the yard where there would be more space. We took our kids, knocked on some doors, and invited our neighbors to come the evening before the breakfast. 34 people showed up! At first, we were worried we wouldn't be able to feed all the people. Now, we've done breakfast so many times, we can feed almost 50 people for under $25. One of the really cool things that has happened is how our neighbors are starting to connect. I watched two guys, one of whom has lived in the neighborhood for 18 years and the other for 15 years, as they talked at one of the breakfasts. They just stood there for a while. I think they had only even just met each other a year before. Then one of them started apologizing to the other, saying, "We've lived this close and we've never talked to each other before. I'm sorry."
Another neighbor said, "I would like to host a breakfast like this in my yard, but I couldn't knock on doors and invite people like you do." We decided to make it easier on anyone who might want to host a breakfast, and we made a portable fully-outfitted breakfast catering wagon. We drag it to anyone's house in five minutes, and we're ready to serve breakfast ten minutes later. These breakfasts keep turning into the neighborhood block parties! More and more people are coming, everyone goes home to take a nap, and then they come back in the evening to gather around someone's fire pit. We even have keys to each others' houses now. Our plan for bad fall weather is to hold a work party to build a huge covered area in my yard so the breakfasts can continue.
Tina - The Wedge, Tacoma
Growing up, I always felt a special connection sharing food with people. I never really could put a finger on it. I just knew this: you see two people standing next to each other at a party, and they're just staring at one another. Give them a cup of coffee or a cookie, and they're talkingIn the beginning, though, I learned to cook out of self-defense. My mom hated cooking. One thing that she did do well was she always cooked enough for an army, even if it was horrible. The rule was we had to be home for dinner, but we could bring anybody home with us. Sometimes we went from a family of 7 to a table of 14. I really believe that that is a huge part of what influenced me in my hospitality. I learned it doesn't matter how much money you have; you just take what you have and make it work
Now that our kids are older, we make time for a standing Wednesday night family dinner. Our kids invite people over too, and their friends say it is so awesome. Many people we have had into our home to eat have said, "I have never sat around the table and talked with family." My husband's and my families may have been messed up in some ways, but they did eat together every night at the same table. Now we make sharing a meal a regular point of connection around God's blessing
We're such a fast food nation, running to soccer practice or whatever, that having a great dinner really does stand out. Besides our family dinners, we've thrown some amazing dinner parties. The first one started at 7pm one evening, and then some people said they had to leave at 8:30pm. The next time I invited people, I said, "Be prepared: come at 7 and you're not leaving until at least 11pm!" Some of these parties went until 2 am because we were eating, drinking, laughing. We decided we wanted to be really intentional about reaching out beyond our circle of friends and inviting people. It was a way to invite more people in to experience the family of God Now we know our whole neighborhood this way.
Shelly - Kent
I have been part of Soma for several months and it has taken me awhile to feel connected. A few Sundays ago someone introduced herself to me and asked me to sit with her. She made an effort to introduce me to every single person she talked to. After our time Sunday morning she invited me to lunch. The Swiss not only serves amazing food, but the atmosphere is great for conversation. This place was cool. As we sat there more and more people came in to join us. In the end, 25+ members of the Soma family got to know each other a little better over a meal. One meal made a difference in my life and helped me finally feel God has put me in the right place. Thank you Amy!