Cultural Encounters: A Journal For The Theology Of Culture Volume 11 Number 2 (Summer 2016) - Page 105

VOLUME 11, NUMBER 2 A JOURNAL FOR THE THEOLOGY OF CULTURE vulnerable to others around us as Christ did to us, we miss out on what it really means to be in communion with one another. As we trace the origins of food back to the creation narrative in Genesis 1, we see hospitality demonstrated by the Creator. On the fifth day of Creation, God created man in his own image and placed them as stewards over his whole creation (Gn 1:26). In addition, Genesis 1:29 reads, “And God said, ‘Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit. You shall have them for food.’” God’s generosity expressed in the abundance of food that he gave to human beings as a gift to enjoy, when viewed through our Chuukese lens, discloses the joy that may have been overflowing from God’s heart on the day when he brought the first man and woman into the world. This may have been, in part, what the author meant when he narrated that God, when looking at all that he had created, said that it was very good—so good that it brought delight to God’s heart. God’s generosity in giving food to humankind in hospitality revealed God’s overflowing joy in his creation. Still, it is important to note that while food as an expression of joy is used to extend hospitality in Chuukese culture, God also demonstrates it in its true and perfect form. In connection with God’s demonstration of hospitality in Genesis1, we see this practice embodied in his Son, Jesus Christ. Whereas a Chuukese person may take pride and joy in offering food to his guests— especially when that means he himself will be deprived of food—we see Jesus lay down his life and die on the cross in order that we might be able to share food with him during the marriage supper of the Lamb (Rv 19:6–9). The apostle Matthew recorded that on the night before his Passion, during his last meal with his disciples, Jesus said, “I tell you, I will not drink again of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom” (Mt 26:29). In the generous life of the Father and the sacrificial life of the Son, we see food used as an expression of joy and hospitality toward humankind in its original form. In light of this understanding, how are we to live our lives? We are to embody the generous and sacrificial life of God by laying down our lives for our neighbors. Returning to the origin of food in Genesis, particularly 1:25–29, we also see that food was given within the context of relationship. God created people in his own image, male and female. Humankind was created a relational being. Within this context of relationship, two things were given: first, humankind—as male and female—was given a mission: to be stewards of God’s creation. Second, God gave food as a gift. Since food was given within the context of relationship, it is a given that it was meant to be shared and enjoyed by both the man and the woman. It was not meant to be consumed in isolation. 102