Day 2 of the Mean Bean Challenge is over. Today I have been thinking about who sponsors my meals. Who sponsors my meals? I mean at the moment, I am eating plain beans and rice in hopes that people will sponsor me in order to raise money for Tearfund, which will enable them to continue to help people by funding projects in over 50 countries. But as I cooked the family meal tonight, there was a label on the jar of pasta sauce and a name on the bag of fusilli. Do the brand names sponsor the meal? Do I because I paid for it? Which God do I honour in the eating? My own ability to earn money and purchase? God?
These questions are at the heart of what Paul is talking about to the church in Corinth (see 1 Corinthians 11:17-34). You see, this is Paul’s letter to a gathering of Christ-followers in the city of Corinth, a city which followed the Roman patronage system. In the patronage system, a more wealthy, more connected person (the patron) would invite others who were not as wealthy and connected over to his or her home. In return for being able to dine in the presence of the patron, the less well-off would give due honour and respect to the patron. The patron usually followed a particular god or goddess, so the meal would feature food sacrificed to that divine being. A patron meal involved giving thanks to the patron for providing all their needs and to the patron’s god for making it all possible. In Paul’s letter to the Corinthians, he notes that people looking at their sharing of the Lord’s Supper might confuse it with a patronage meal! For Paul this as unacceptable. The Lord’s Supper was not a patronage meal. The host simply provided their home for the meal. But Jesus is the ‘patron’ and YHWH is God who provides.
God is THE god, with Jesus being the one who sponsors the meal, inviting us to His table.
Thinking of my own meals – even the beans and rice – ultimately no matter whose name is on the label, it belongs to God. How I use it and how I share it, matters. But more on that tomorrow, as I think about the phrase “unworthy manner” (1 Corinthians 11:27).
Thank you for joining me on this journey.