by Rev. MargaretAnne Overstreet
It was a beautiful, sunny afternoon when a group of church members gathered in one member’s yard and began to collect grapes from the rows and rows of vines.
One for the bucket. One for me. One for the bucket . . .
Firm, ripe, and sweet, the grapes were hard to resist. After all, eating straight from the vine is one of the pleasures and perks of growing your own food. These grapes, though, were not intended for the dinner table, or even to be a healthy, home-grown snack.
After collecting the grapes, we gathered around the work areas to sort, clean and boil the grapes. Before long, we had a large pot of sweet-smelling juice. Part of the group completed the final steps – straining and canning the juice – while the other half of the group began coordinating the potluck buffet. As we sat down to the feast, we celebrated that our combined efforts had produced 12 jars of home-grown, hand-made grape juice.
Just a few weeks later, the first of those 12 jars was opened and poured into a silver pitcher and placed on the communion table beside a small loaf of bread that had been baked by an elderly gentleman who was a life-long member of the congregation.
As I stood behind the table – the table where we are commanded to remember – and lifted first the bread and then the juice, the memories of that sunny day sparked in my mind: the fellowship, the laughter, the delight of time spent with friends. I remembered the hands that had grown and prepared this eucharistic meal of bread and juice, and I remembered the sacrifice that had been made so that we might all come to the Lord’s table.
I wish that I came to every meal with such awareness and remembrance. If each of us were to look deeply at every meal, to offer gratitude for those who grew or transported or prepared the meal, to eat each meal mindful of the sacrifices that had been made in order for us to have the meal, to think of those who are not able to enjoy such a feast, then I believe we would be changed . . . and food justice would prevail over food injustice.
If we came to each meal with such awareness and remembrance, we might also rediscover that every meal – even the most mundane – is a sacrament, a sign of God’s grace at work within us and and among us.
Photos by Rev. MargaretAnne Overstreet
In addition to being the founder and editor-in-chief of the “40 Days for Food Justice Project”, the Rev. MargaretAnne Overstreet is a Presbyterian pastor and food justice advocate. When not preaching, teaching or writing, she likes hiking with her dogs and growing things in her garden. Find out more about her at www.AnInBetweenPlace.us