Eat What is Set Before You

Reposted from October 2014, before a trip to Thailand

After this the Lord appointed seventy others and sent them on ahead of him in pairs to every town and place where he himself intended to go.  He said to them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest. Go on your way. See, I am sending you out like lambs into the midst of wolves. Carry no purse, no bag, no sandals; and greet no one on the road.  Whatever house you enter, first say, ‘Peace to this house!’ And if anyone is there who shares in peace, your peace will rest on that person; but if not, it will return to you.  Remain in the same house, eating and drinking whatever they provide, for the laborer deserves to be paid. Do not move about from house to house.  Whenever you enter a town and its people welcome you, eat what is set before you;  cure the sick who are there, and say to them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’  Luke 10:1-9

I am a picky eater.  I don’t eat fish, except for McD fish sandwich and tuna.  No shell fish, either.  My parents, who love anything that swims, claim I was switched at birth. I’m a chicken, beef, and pork girl.

I don’t want to eat animals you have to hunt, could have as a pet, or need the exterminator for. I don’t want to eat it if it is cute.  I don’t want to eat something that looks like the body it came in, and I DON’T want to see or hear it being butchered. I do love veggies, fruit and eggs and could likely live as a vegetarian if I could have tacos every once in a while.

I was trained to eat what was put before me.  “You have to try it” mom said.  “Eat at least one bite” dad said.  “Children around the world would love to have your dinner” they said.  So I learned to eat what was in front of me.  I also learned that it didn’t kill me.

Then I went to Thailand.  I knew I would have to eat fish.  I would probably have to see it in the body it came in, eyes and all.  We were warned that we might be offered dog to eat because it is an Akha hill tribe delicacy.  We were told to eat it with a smile on our faces.  DOG??  With a smile on my face??  Turns out, it was easier than I thought, because when a little Akha woman offered a bowl of ground meat to me and proudly exclaimed “dog”, her joy in giving me this delicacy overcame my hesitance in eating what we define as a pet.

Over the years I have eaten dog, eel, alligator, armadillo, jochi, goat, yak, frog legs and I have no idea what else.  I have tried to live by my eating rule.. “don’t ask, don’t tell”  I won’t ask, and please don’t tell me till after…. long after…. I am finished.

In Luke 10: 7-8, Jesus was clear about how to act at a home when it came to food.

Remain in the same house, eating and drinking whatever they provide, for the laborer deserves to be paid. Do not move about from house to house. Whenever you enter a town and its people welcome you, eat what is set before you…. Luke 10:7-8 NRSV

Are Jesus’ words about the food?  Partly… the laborer deserves to be paid.  But they are also about BEING.  They are about respect and honor, and intimacy.

Henri Nouwen says it best:

The Intimacy of the Table

The table is one of the most intimate places in our lives. It is there that we give ourselves to one another. When we say, “Take some more, let me serve you another plate, let me pour you another glass, don’t be shy, enjoy it,” we say a lot more than our words express. We invite our friends to become part of our lives. We want them to be nurtured by the same food and drink that nurture us. We desire communion. That is why a refusal to eat and drink what a host offers is so offensive. It feels like a rejection of an invitation to intimacy.

 Strange as it may sound, the table is the place where we want to become food for one another. Every breakfast, lunch, or dinner can become a time of growing communion with one another.  Henri Nouwen, Bread for the Journey

Soo.. I am off to Thailand in eight hours to a Karen village in northern Thailand.  Pray that I will eat whatever is put in front of me.  Pray that the team and I will lean into the experience of the intimacy of the table.  Pray that the tender communion of the table nurtures our Karen brothers and sisters as we delight in their generosity.





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