Food Glorious food August 21st 2011 – Rev. Jay Wolin
Food is Love!! I heard this phrase throughout my lifetime in my house growing up. Eating together was a sacred event. Dinner was often the one time when the family was always together. No matter what I was doing, I had to be home in time for dinner. My father would leave work and often have to return after dinner. I think much of this was due to my family’s experiences during the depression in the 1930s, when food was not so plentiful, and so therefore food just for the sake of sustenance was celebrated and revered. Of course I think dinner might have been even more sacred if someone in my birth family was a better cook. In the Orlando congregational cookbook, I put down my mothers’ special recipe, the telephone number for the Chinese Takeout restaurant.
And lets think about Unitarian Unviersalism. How much food is apart of our culture. In the short time I have been here, I see we celebrate often with potlucks, not just with ourselves, but also as a way of including the larger community such as we had last weekend as we broke break with members from the refugee community. And always we are conscious of those with different eating lifestyles and provide vegetarian/vegan offerings at such occasions.
Many members here are active in the Community Sustainable Agriculture Movement, Many Members here work with Church’s United serving a community meal to those in need and as we heard this morning the Crop Walk for Hunger. If you would like to get involved with that, please let me know. We have a tradition of having Labor Day cookouts, and Thanksgiving dinners for people to celebrate together. And in this as in almost every Unitarian Universalist congregation I am aware of Coffee Hour is a major part of our communal life together. It is the one time when the most of us are together at one time. It is the first time we will have the opportunity to meet with and get to know first time guests to our congregation. It is a weekly celebration of our existence as a congregation together. And such a time should be celebrated with a sense of joy. So please if you ever feel the spirit move you to bring food for coffee hour, you don’t need to ask permission, just follow that spirit. And if the spirit moves you to clean up, even if the spirit doesn’t move you to clean up, you don’t have to ask permission, at the end of coffee hour, please help clean up!!
And of course in our American Culture that is the religion of Football, Super Bowl Sunday being its highest holiday, the Super Bowl is the largest day of the year for takeout food where hundreds of millions of dollars are spent every year.
So my point in all of this, is to make present to us that we have a deep relationship with food. It has become much more than mere sustenance for us. It has become part of our culture to utilize food as a way of expressing ourselves and our emotions. We have been blessed with an abundance of food here in America and often we take it for granted. I think food has always been a part of the religious rituals of humanity specifically to remind us not take food for granted. The three main Western religious traditions often focus on the denial of food through fasting or food laws as a spiritual practice. I always found this fascinating. Why deny yourself food when we have plenty of it. How does this help us.
I have actually maintained the tradition of fasting on Yom Kippur. Not for historic religious reasons, but because I have found it to be a centering practice in my life. What I find most revealing about it is that it points to the mind body disconnection I often have about food. When I fast, I become conscious about food. What I become most conscious about is really how little food I really NEED to eat during the day. It is in the breaking of our daily habits that we can see things in a new objective light. Another way I have experienced a way to think of food differently is through the intentional practice of mindful eating.
We the people, can change our eating habits, we can change our selves, and by doing so, by being a model, we the people can change the culture and create a sustainable world for all people. Unitarian Universalism in a recently passed statement of conscience titled “Ethical Eating” calls us to “strive to choose foods that minimize harm and are protective of the environment, consumers, farmers, and all those involved in the food production and distribution.” And although we have no creed or authority that require us to follow such recommendations, we are asked to use all our faculties, the faculties of the heart and mind, reason and reverence, to think about the issues raised.