At Table

A couple of years back, Panera Bread ran a compelling ad campaign that began as a list:

The Mac guy and the PC guy,
Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker,
Sons-in-law and Mothers-in-law,
Introverts and Extroverts,
Sarah Palin and Tina Fey,
The Right and the Left,
Brett Favre and Wisconsin,
Red Sox Fans and Yankees Fans,
The Roadrunner and the Coyote,
Those who install toilet paper over and those who prefer it under…

Break Bread.

Pretty funny! But why? Why break bread?

What can breaking bread together actually do for people on opposite sides of the fence?

Tomorrow, most Americans will break bread…and eat turkey and mashed potatoes and pumpkin pie with some people at their table who are, indeed, on the opposite sides of their fences: Young. Old. Democrats. Republicans. Brothers. Sisters. Gay. Straight. Liberal. Conservative. Rich. Poor. Athletes. Artists. Singers. Scientists. Believers. Not quite sure.

So maybe it’s the perfect time to ask this question:

What can breaking bread with someone else do for us?

Sitting down to eat a meal together is a vanishing ritual in our culture, replaced by fast food, drive through windows and eating alone. Thanksgiving reminds us that there is another way: we can feast. We can take our time. We can cook! Together! And  stop. Linger. Sit a spell and talk for a while. Eating around the table somehow breaks down barriers, renews relationships, brings peace, and heals and binds at least in some small measure. And in spite of what we can’t seem to agree on, there’s no arguing how over-the-top delicious Grandma’s stuffing is.

Could that be why the Kingdom of Heaven is often portrayed as a great banquet?

Long before Panera, Jesus understood the power inherent in this very basic, human act.

He ate with Pharisees, dined with Matthew and his friends, and had a final meal with His disciples the night before His death. And on that night, when He offered the bread and said, “Take this” it was as if the disciples knew for the first time that He was actually saying, Take me. And when they did, they knew Him in a way they never did before. After His resurrection, it was in the blessing and  breaking of bread that He revealed to the disciples who He really was.

Something mysteriously wonderful happens when we break bread together. Or at least it has that potential.

How could your Thanksgiving change tomorrow if you looked over your fence to your opposite across the table and saw him or her as one of God’s beautiful mysteries to be revealed and explored?

Could it be that gratitude, to God, looks like forgiveness, grace, and understanding for the people in our lives?

And could forgiveness, grace and understanding actually come because we are breaking bread?

Tomorrow around your table, love the way God does.

Happy Thanksgiving from Q Place.