FOOD . . . What it is, and is not

Don’t you see that whatever enters the mouth goes into the stomach and then out of the body? But the things that come out of the mouth come from the heart, and these make a man “unclean.” For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander. These are what make a man “unclean”; but eating with unwashed hands does not make him “unclean.” (Reference: Matthew 15:17-20)

Some 64 years ago The Mennonite Cookbook came out. My copy was the 26th printing that came out in 1981, and had been updated in 1978. There is also the cookbook, Cooking More with Less that came out in the middle 1970’s; and the 25 year anniversary editions. And most recently the Mennonite Girls Can Cook Book. So you can say that Anabaptists/Mennonites have a strong relationship with food. It has been the focus of many social occasions. We gather with friends and family in joyful Thanksgiving to God for the bounty that the Divine has provided.

We also know the difference between the food that goes into our stomachs and the words that come out of our mouth. We watch each very closely. We talk about “feeding” ourselves spiritually and nourishment for our spirits. But we know this is study of God’s words and following Christ. We do not confuse the two.

We do not literally believe that we eat Christ’s body and drink his blood. But it is reminders to us the Christ suffered physically on our behalf. We remind ourselves and take in the significance of that when we take Communion – Christ’s body and blood.

What comes out of our heart – our words, intentions, and actions are what makes us “clean” or “unclean”, and not the food we eat nor the sanitary conditions under which we eat. Food is means to an end, and not the measurement of devotion to God. Certainly not a measurement of our spiritual life. Because Anabaptists/Mennonites know the place of food, and the place of devotion and worship, we rarely confuse the two.

May you, beloved reader, nourish your spirit for you Christian journey. And nourish your stomach in rejoicing and thanksgiving that your God provides. Selah!