At this time of year most of us in the Western hemisphere will be eating more, over the holiday period, than we usually would regardless of our faith or personal beliefs about Christmas; meals take on an additional significance at times of festivity. Food is a central part of any celebration and judging by the queues in the supermarkets food is an important part of the Christmas ritual for most people. But for others Christmas can be a painful reminder of what they haven’t got, including relationships that have broken down or are strained and loved ones who have died. Meals were very important to Jesus too He chose to spend the night before he died sharing a meal with his closest friends.
Here at the Northampton Jesus Centre we are only too aware that there will be many, not just the homeless, who will be eating alone over this holiday period and so we ensure that, although all our normal services are closed and staff and regular volunteers get a well-earned break we are providing a community meal for anyone who is on their own who cares to join us. Most of us would agree that even though manyof us in the Developed world have more than we've ever had, we are less satisfied and something of the joy in the simple things in life has been lost in the name of progress, trampled underfoot by the gods of comsumerism and materialism.
he was asked if he ever regretted founding his community for physically and mentally impaired adults in 1964, or though he might have made the wrong decision. What he said resonated with me and my experience in a very different type of community:
“ What struck me was that I’d found home… We had fun. Everything was around meals... "
"When I say meals, we’d buy food, make food, cook food, eat food, do the washing up, prepare the next meal. Everything was around food and the food was to be around the table.
There’s a beautiful text of Jesus where he says, when you give a meal, don’t invite the members of your family, don’t invite your rich neighbours. When you give a really good meal, invite the poor, lame, the disabled and the blind and you will be truly blessed
( Luke 14:13)….
So I wanted to build a community not an institution.
And that’s what attracted people…
when people came, they ate at our table and had fun.” **
I live in an intentional Christian community, in Northampton, with my husband and 10 other adults and 3 children who are not part of our natural family, but members of our church. Mealtimes are a central part of creating home, family and a sense of belonging to us too and so we will bring that sense of community and family with us when we cook brunch on Christmas morning for whoever cares to join us. We’ll all muck in and cook, wash up and welcome visitors and hopefully bring some love and joy and peace to those in need of it. So we will open our doors to whoever is in need of food, friendship and warmth and share something of the happiness we’ve found in our community family life together and we’ll have some fun together.
Northampton Jesus Centre- Christmas meal times
Friday 25th December 10am-12pm – Festive brunch for anyone on their own
Saturday 26th December 10-1pm - Festive buffet lunch open to anyone on their own
Monday 1pm- 4pm Christmas curry - open to anyone on their own
Notes: *Jean Vanier - is a Canadian Catholic philosopher, theologian and humanitarian. He founded L'Arche in 1964, an international federation of communities spread over 35 countries, for people with developmental disabilities and those who assist them. (Wikipedia)