Yesterday morning, I gathered with almost 200 of my friends and acquaintances for breakfast. And I do mean breakfast. Not some kind of “continental” expression of sweet rolls and yogurt. I mean BREAKFAST………eggs, ham, sausage, livermush, grits, biscuits, gravy, coffee and juice. A full cholesterol delight! And lots of it. Anyone who wanted seconds stepped up and was served. It was a celebratory event. We gathered at the shelter at 6:45 AM for the celebration of the resurrection of Christ and then walked together into a beautiful new dining hall to break bread together. Members of our faith community joined with shelter guests and numerous other folk from Statesville and beyond.
Even folks who, by their own admission, have a hard time waking up early were there with an alertness that speaks of a good time. The second largest commodity exhibited besides food was laughter and greeting. People who did not know each other and who might even be considered by some as being “different” from others (whatever that really means) shared the same table and connected, albeit briefly. Our children and grandchildren gathered at one table which required adding more chairs. Joining them was “Buttercup”, one of our best known and most respected shelter guests. I don’t know what he took away from them, but I’m glad they were able to be close, for a brief period, to this fine man.
Some sociologists have said that they can tell us something about ourselves by discovering with whom we share a meal. Is it only family or just our closest friends? That would be the norm, but breakfast at Fifth Street gave us an opportunity to stretch that a bit. Now, if only we can maintain that consistently. Some have been able to do so. Years ago, they might never have considered crossing south of the great divide known as Garner Bagnal Boulevard and heading into Southside. Now it is done with ease and frequency. Others still come with a buddy and with some hesitancy, but they come. And somehow they find a way to feast together.
Maybe we all have our favorite stories of Jesus’ post-resurrection encounters with his disciples and others, i.e. the road to Emmaus , behind closed doors, or a mountain in Galilee. My favorite, I think, is recorded in John 20 where Jesus appears on the beach and invites the disciples to breakfast. Jesus uses the moment to instruct Peter with a bit of loving sternness about what discipleship means and even says that if someone else’s discipleship unfolds in a different way, it really is no business of Peter’s.
It may seem strange to us but one of the most controversial things Jesus ever did was to eat with people….all kinds of people. Therein was the rub. Status quo and elitist thinking implied then, as now, that a great host should be barred because they think, believe, act, or appear remarkably different from those who have quick and ready access to the table. But it’s really hard to feel prejudice, a sense of disgust, or even hate when we sit in close proximity with another and ask them to “please pass the biscuits.”