hospitality, Practical Hospitality

Breaking Bread: The Importance of Meals

Over and over again in the Bible, we see the term “breaking bread”. The Bible uses this baked-baked-good-bread-2067631term for three different events. It is used for shared meals, Holy communion, and even talking about the Crucifixion. I loved my study of each of these specific events. Today we’ll be specifically talking about breaking bread in terms of sharing meals with others in our community for the purpose of meeting needs and providing fellowship.

Acts 2:46  “Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts”

Did you know that 20% of all American meals are eaten in the car? Another study shows that on average, nearly 50% of our meals are eaten alone. In 2010, a journal report showed that only 43% of American families eat together every day. This doesn’t even touch on how many families sit down with one another in fellowship to share a meal. As a nurse, I want to go into the negative physical and emotional health effects of our declining eating habits, but I’ll save that for another time and place. Today we’ll simply look at the importance of sitting down together and sharing a meal. I believe that in regards to fellowship and hospitality, sitting down together for a meal is one of the most important things you can do. Just the act of inviting someone to your table speaks volumes. It is a tangible way to extend love to friends and grace to strangers in need. Christ Himself extended that same grace over and over again, and we’re told that after He calls all Saints home for good, we are invited to sit at the Marriage Supper of the Lamb. (Revelation 19)  Not a church service, not a conference, not a seminar. But at the table.

Jesus didn’t run projects, establish ministries, or put on events. He ate meals”
Tim Chester “A Meal with Jesus”

One of the passages I turn to frequently to illustrate the importance of eating meals together is in the book of Acts:

Acts 2:42-46  “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts…”

caffeine-coffee-cuisine-15280133 things happen when you sit down to a meal together

1.) Physical needs are met
It’s no secret that we need to eat to live. Whether it’s a stranger who needs a hot meal, a friend who doesn’t feel up to cooking, or that new college kid at church who could benefit from some home cooking. Romans 12:13 tells us “Share with the LORD’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.” If there is a need, we as Believers should be the first to jump up and say “I’ll do it!” It doesn’t feel natural at first, and that’s ok. Inviting people into your home can be scary until you have experience. That’s why we’re told to practice. Start simple. Ready-to-cook pizza and bagged salad is a great place to start. Once you start feeling more comfortable having people in your home, you can start cooking. But again, stay simple and work your way up to a “from-scratch” meal. God told us to practice hospitality, not practice fine dining parties with elaborate meals. It’s not about perfection and talent, it’s about presence and togetherness. If that’s a rotisserie chicken and instant mashed potatoes, so be it.

2.) Emotional needs are met
Looking at that same passage, sometimes those needs aren’t just physical. Sometimes there are emotional needs that need to be met in a non-threatening environment. What better environment than around your kitchen table? Those who eat alone can experience more loneliness, depression, and in turn reach for unhealthy options, or skip meals altogether. By inviting those people to your table, you’re not only providing for their physical hunger, but for their emotional hunger as well. Think about how nice it feels to be asked for dinner, or even just coffee. It meets the desire for fellowship. It makes your heart happy. Sharing a meal is about more than food. It’s about friendship, grace, and love. When we sit down around a dinner table, our emotional need for connection is met. “…They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts”

3.) Spiritual needs are met
Looking through the life of Jesus, we see over and over again where he would share profound truths and encouragement with people around a table. It was around a dinner table that He redeemed Zacchaeus from a life of dishonesty and thievery (Luke 5). It was around a dinner table that He extended grace to Mary as she washed His feet (Luke 7). It was around a dinner table that He taught Mary, Martha, and Lazarus the importance of fellowship with Him (Luke 10).  It was even around a dinner table that Jesus told us that He was the only answer to our greatest need (Luke 22). There are times when people need grace or encouragement. There are times when people need to hear a hard truth. There are times when people need to dive deeper in the Word of God and learn together. Through the example of Jesus Christ Himself, we learn that there is no better place than around our table.

Following the example Jesus set for us, we can be encouraged to reach out and extend cutlery-dining-room-flatware-269264the invitation to come around our table and share a meal. You never know what that might mean to someone, and how that simple invitation may change their life. If you are looking for more information, an excellent book that talks about this subject is “A Meal With Jesus” by Tim Chester.  I would love to hear your feedback, as well as any tips you have for simple table hospitality. Drop a comment below or email me here. God bless!

Paige Baldwin



Recipe for Homemade Bread:

2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast (1pkg)
2 1/4 cup warm water
1 TBS sugar PLUS 1/4 cup sugar
1 TBS salt
2 TBS olive oil
6 – 6 1/2 cups all purpose flour
Butter for pans and plastic wrap

~In a large bowl or stand mixer, combine yeast, warm water, and 1 TBS sugar. Let stand until bubbly and foamy.
~Add remaining sugar, salt, oil, and 4 cups of the flour and mix until smooth.
~Add remaining flour 1/2 cup at a time to form a soft, smooth, and slightly sticky dough.
~Knead for 3-5 minutes until smooth and then roll into a ball.
~Place the dough in a buttered bowl and cover with buttered plastic wrap.
~Let rise for one hour in a warm place.
~When dough has risen, punch down and divide in half.
~Roll out each half into a long rectangle shape 8 inches wide. Then roll the dough up to form a log shape
~Place the dough logs seam down into a buttered pan and cover with buttered plastic wrap and a towel.
~Let rise for another hour in a warm place.
~Preheat oven to 375º. Bake for 30-35 minutes until golden brown and have a hollow sound when tapped.
~Remove to rack and cool slightly before serving.

This bread can easily be frozen by letting in cool completely and wrapping tightly in plastic wrap before putting in the freezer. I wouldn’t suggest keeping it frozen for more than 2 weeks for best taste. To use, take out and let thaw in refrigerator overnight.

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