Mealtime Gatherings
Give a Glimpse of God

By Nathan Stucky

nathan stucky
Nathan Stucky teaching a course at the Farminary.

It seems to me that food is a thread within the Christian learning community that is Princeton Theological Seminary. If you’re willing to pull that thread, it leads to countless corners of our shared communal life.

Food leads us to Mackay dining hall. It leads us to the communion table in Miller Chapel. It leads to countless kitchens and dining rooms in apartments and homes around campus. It points us also to the core of the Judeo-Christian theological tradition. 

The creation accounts in both Genesis 1 and Genesis 2 specifically mention God’s provision of food. God’s deliverance of the Israelites from captivity in Egypt culminates in a Passover meal that is then celebrated through the ages.

For 40 years in the wilderness, God provides manna—daily bread—for a wandering people. The promise of the Promised Land is that it flows with milk and honey, and that in that land the people will be able to eat the fruit of the land.

Food appears and reappears in Jesus’ life and ministry, as well. Water into wine at a wedding banquet; feeding of the 5,000; feeding of the 4,000; five loaves and two fishes; parables about banquets and feasts that follow the return of prodigal children; Last Supper; bread; wine; fish for breakfast on the beach; and instruction, “Feed my sheep”; and when you pray, ask for daily bread.

Food and faith—what a beautiful and complicated, bounteous and messy pair. In the theological tradition, they point to both the glory and bounty of Old Testament festivals and the heartache and betrayal of a shared Passover meal the night before crucifixion. And yet, something else always seems to accompany these meals.

There’s more present here than food and people. Through these meals, those gathered experience the presence of God—the Deliverer, the Messiah, the crucified and risen One. Through them God enters the beauty and complexity, the bounty and the mess.

So also at Princeton Seminary. Beauty and complexity. Bounty and mess. And maybe—just maybe—an opportunity to experience the presence of the One who gives life, breath, and sustenance in the first place.

NATHAN STUCKY, PhD, is director of The Farminary Project which integrates theological education with small-scale sustainable agriculture. Stucky’s course offerings include Ecologies of Faith Formation and Wine and the Bible.