I know it’s the Fourth of July by what we eat:  corn on the cobb, baked beans, potatoe salad, some kind of meat and watermelon.  Maybe we’ll add some kind of vegetable.  We might have potatoe salad a couple of other times a year.  But it’s likely the only time we’ll have baked beans.  We have a couple of other days, in our family, that we know by the food.  Thanksgiving will have turkey with all the trimmings.  It’s the trimmings that set it apart (as we do sometimes have turkey at other times).  Christmas Eve it’s fondue.  This is a slightly newer tradition (maybe less than 15 years) that originated when we were looking for a celebration meal that fit in between two evening services.  Those are the distinctive meals for our family.

Community meals are powerful.  Which is probably why Jesus has his followers gather around a shared meal — even if it’s become a pretty symbolic meal in our day.  This is where we are fed.  This is where we know who we are, gathered together around the bread and the wine.  This is what we do with Jesus.

Certainly it’s not the only thing we do with Jesus.  We care for each other.  We care for all of God’s creation.  But I think identity comes for us as we gather in community around the bread and the wine with which he feeds and sustains us.

When we gather around these shared meals at home, sometimes we have company.  I’m pretty sure, for these meals, the company is usually either family or people who we consider to be like family.  Of course they eat with us.  Maybe it’s trickier at church.  But it seems to me early Christians understood themselves to have become a new family with a new, common identity in Jesus.  I guess we could look at our visitors in church as being people on the margin — not really a part of us.  But the whole point is that we are all invited to find a new home in Jesus.