Let’s enjoy life! Let’s eat together

A sermon on Luke 7:34.

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LUKE 7.34: LET


Scripture readings: Luke 5.27-32; 7.31-35; Acts 2.44-47
[Chelmsford 29 August 2010]

I love parties

and will find any excuse to have a party.
Would that birthdays came round more than once a year!
I love eating good food, drinking good wine, and just having fun with people. In this respect the


great Dutch theologian once said:
No party is any fun unless seasoned with folly

Jesus too loved parties. Indeed, according to Dominic Crossan, a well-known radical American
theologian, Jesus was

the consummate party animal
The Gospels tell us how time and again Jesus accepted invitations to parties.
of every party he attended.
I have no doubt he was the

life and soul

On one occasion he turned 600 litres of water into wine
gosh that wedding feast at Cana of

Galilee must have been some party (John 2)!
Yes, Jesus seems to have loved a good party

so much so that the suggestion has been made that
a Friar Tuck

as a result of all the eating and drinking Jesus must have been somewhat tubby
character if you like.

Perhaps not surprisingly, Jesus got some stick for his love of parties.
Look at
Some religious people criticised him for over-indulging. According to Jesus they said,

this man! He is a glutton and a drinker, a friend of tax collectors and sinners

(Lk 7.34;
also Matt 11.19). Actually, these words of criticism are very revealing.
Jesus was accused not just of being a party-goer, but of going to disreputable parties, associating
with crooked businessmen and women of questionable morals.
Here we learn that Jesus was not into parties for the sake of enjoying himself

but rather he was
into parties as a way of extending God

s love to those who were deemed beyond the pale.
It was for the sake of the kingdom that Jesus went to parties. Although no doubt Jesus enjoyed
eating and drinking, he was an intentional party-goer, in the sense that he was into building
bridges of friendship with people who would never have been allowed to have a seat in a
synagogue. Jesus was into parties, because he was into making friends with others, big-time.

This morning I want to preach a very down-to-earth practical sermon.
I want to suggest that just as Jesus was often having meals with others, so too should we.
Indeed, the title of my sermon is


s enjoy life! Let

s eat together


1. LET

Forgive me if at this point I address the members of the congregation who are married and have
children. I am conscious that as a church we have many people who are single, and are living
on their own. However, just hang in there, if you are single, there will eventually be a word for
you too.

But for those of you who are married and have children, let me encourage you to make the time
to eat together. To some of you that may sound strange

but the sad reality is that there are
many families do who rarely sit down at the dining table together.
According to one American survey of children, when asked how many times per month each
child sat down to an evening meal together, the average answer was once!
In our hectic Western lifestyle, all too often we eat food on the run

life is so busy in the
morning, that there is no time for the family to sit down and eat breakfast together, instead
people just grab a bowl of cereal before they rush out to get the bus or train; lunchtimes families

t eat together

instead we give lunch-boxes to
our children, while we adults eat a sandwich
at the desk; and in the evening, family members come back at different times, children have
activities, adults have activities

we just help ourselves to food as and when convenient.
indeed in many homes there is no dining table.
Many families don

t eat together

If people do eat together, they eat around the TV

although, of course, these days most families
have more than one TV, with the result that people eat around different TVs because they want
to watch different programmes.

Now I can

t pretend that there is a Scripture which says:

families must eat together

I am in no doubt that families who never eat together are the poorer.
They are the poorer together socially

and the poorer together spiritually.
• They are the poorer socially, because they miss out on the opportunity to interact as a
family together. No wonder children go off the rails if they never sit down to eat with
their parents. OK I recognise that eating together on a daily basis may not be possible

especially if the father is away on business or comes back home late at night.
If that is the case, then what about trying to eat together once a week.
One reason why family life is so strong in Judaism is that once a week, on a Friday
evening, the family sits down to eat together, and in that context they talk together.
• They are the poorer spiritually, because in not eating together they miss out on the
opportunity for parents to reflect with their children on the issues of the day, and within
the context of reflecting on the issues of the day parents can bring a Christian perspective.
Israel, remember
Every time we have a dedication I read a passage from Deut 6.4-7:

this! The Lord

and the Lord alone

is our God.
Love the Lord your God with all
your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. Never forget these
commands that I am giving you today. Teach them to your children. Repeat them

when you are at home and when you are away, when you are resting and when you
are working

. But how can influence our children and teach them about God when we
are never together? It is has been said that the family that prays together, that stays
together. I wish to argue that it is the family that eats together, which is most likely to
stay together.


2. LET

As I look back on this past summer, I look back with particular fondness on two Sundays.
• I remember that very host last Sunday of June when with other churches we came together in
Central Park for

Praise in the Park

, and then we all stayed on for
Picnic in the Park

. It

was a wonderfully happy time of togetherness.
• Three weeks later after a Sunday morning service many of us went to Hylands Park for a
it was a lovely day - and of course we didn

t just eat. We talked to one
church picnic

another, we played games with one another

it was an opportunity for making new
friendships, as also for developing old friendships.

Alas, all too often we are too busy for friendships on a Sunday.
Sunday mornings are like a game of billiards. We bump into one another, and then ricochet off
onto somebody else.

How are you?

, we say, and

How are you?

, but we never expect an
honest answer

because we are all too busy, scooping up the children or rushing off to get the
lunch on. Certainly as I stand at the door welcoming people, and then fare-welling people,
superficiality is the order of the day.

we need to slow down

Developing friendships takes time
eating together.

Next Sunday we have a church picnic as part of our saying farewell to Emma, Nicholas and
Amanda. Let me encourage you to make this picnic a priority.

and in the eating deepen our friendship with one another.
s eat together


But we don

t have to limit eating together to church picnics.

s invite people back to our homes for a meal.
Let me remind you that hospitality is in fact a sacred duty, incumbent on us all.
Time and again we read in the New Testament that we are to practise hospitality.
• The Apostle Paul writes:
Open your home to strangers

(Rom 12.13)

• The Apostle Peter writes:
Open your homes to one another without complaining

• The writer of Hebrews:
Remember to welcome strangers in your homes. There were

some who did that and welcomed angels unawares

(Hebs 13.2)
and a good way of slowing down is

(1 Pet


Interestingly, in the NT hospitality is first and foremost about welcoming people we don

t know
into our homes. Let me encourage each of you here to welcome into your home people you

t already know in the church.
• In May we welcomed into membership Peter & Hazel Beazley, Busola Fashade. Catherine
Leppard, Vivienne Moore, Avril Solarin
• In July we welcomed into membership Tobiloba Adegboye Poppy Blake, Joshua Hills,
Hannah James, Gerry Gilbert & Julian Wilkinson, and Spencer and Julia Byford

we should
have welcomed David Acock, but away that weekend.
What about inviting one or two of these new members into your home for a meal?
Yes, let
and in the process let

s make more friends.

s eat together as a church

Eating together binds us together as a church

it also attracts others to the church.
I remember speaking to an Anglican vicar who had grown an inner-London church from nothing
to 500. I said to him:

How did you do it? What was the secret of growth?

Lots of red wine

and pasta

, he replied! I think we can learn from this Anglican vicar!

3. LET

As a church we have an extensive network of small groups.
this term we are experimenting with a new

At one stage we called them fellowship groups
form of small group called

life groups

At the July church meeting I handed out a statement about the purpose:

People are looking for community. They are looking for a place to belong. When people are
coming to us on a Sunday, they are looking not just for inspirational worship and good quality
they are primarily looking for friendship, for a place to live life together.

• Life groups are first and foremost about friendship, about community, about sharing life
• Life groups are where people can relax with one another, laugh with one another, and
even weep with one another. Life groups are about being real with one another.
• Life groups are about caring for one another, being there for one another, praying for
one another and offering practical support.
• Life groups are about reading the Bible together and discovering how God

s Word
applies to our everyday lives.
• Life groups are about encouraging one another to share the good news of Jesus with
others. In life groups we pray for friends and colleagues

and for opportunities to share
our faith story with them.
• Life groups are about extending friendship to others. Life groups want others to join
them, even if it means that after a year or so the group may have to divide into two and
form two further life groups

Notice the emphasis on friendship

and as a result of this emphasis I have suggested that life
groups eat together, if not every time they meet, then at least regularly. Indeed, in this autumn

mid-week programme I have suggested that life groups eat together at least three times:

s eat together Italian (e.g. pizza, pasta, pastrami)! An opportunity to make
Sept 15
friends as well as renew friendship.

s invite friends to eat with us

the friends I have in mind are those who do
not normally attend a small group
s invite more friends to an Advent Supper


In my notes to the nurture team, I wrote:

Note the emphasis on eating together. Pasta is a
Tesco do a pasta bake for four people + a side dish + dessert, all for £5!
cheap option

Morning groups could have

coffee and Danish
; afternoon groups

coffee and cup-cakes

might lay on

afternoon tea

The important thing is not what we eat

but that we do eat together; that we do not simply enjoy
friendship with one another, but that we invite others to come and share the friendship.

4. LET


If we are to be true to the spirit of Jesus, then we cannot just eat together as families nor can we
we need to eat together with people outside the church.
just eat together with church people

We need to eat together with neighbours, with colleagues, with people who don

t go to church
who think that church is not for them.

Nick Cuthbert in his consultation report on our church wrote of the need for us to


, we need to

. Instead of being what he calls

well-intentioned consumers
missional culture

to our lives. In this regard he says:

day to day witness as a key
Let new membership be seen as
joining a body of people who have a vision not only to be a warm and loving community, but one

. He goes on:

that is passionate to reach others
Encourage lots of inviting of non-Christians

. That is what I want to do this morning. Encourage lots of eating
into homes for meals
together with friends outside the church.
It is not enough to have hospitality Sundays, when we invite people from within the church into
our homes

perhaps we need to have hospitality Sundays when we invite people from outside
the church into our homes.

If we are honest, I guess that this is something that many of us don

t find easy.
Matters are not helped because we are all so busy at church. According to Michael Prior, who
wrote a popular commentary on 1 Corinthians: there is a

desperate need for Christians to
excise innumerable church meetings, in order to free their diaries for proper meeting with

. He went on, Jesus

model of ministering to people of all backgrounds

us to cross the culture- gap between the Christian sub-culture of cozy meetings and holy talk and
the pagan culture of our local community. The task of identification with and incarnation into

our contemporary paganism, of all kinds, is one of the biggest tasks confronting the church

. A
I have a book on my shelves entitled

Contagious holiness: Jesus

meals with sinners
reminder that people will never be able to


the difference Jesus makes, unless we make
friends with them, and the best way to make a friend is over the dinner table.

To return where I began: Jesus loved to go to parties

he loved to eat and drink, and in eating
s love toward others.
and drinking he expressed God

Jesus offers a model to you and to me! So, let

s not only

but also

eat together

enjoy life



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Who’s Paul Beasley-Murray?

Paul is the chairman of Ministry Today, as also the College of Baptist Ministers, and from 1993 – 2014 was Senior Minister of Central Baptist Church, Chelmsford. He can be contacted at paul@paulbeasleymurray.com.

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