Then the children of Israel who had returned from the captivity ate together with all who had separated themselves from the filth of the nations of the land in order to seek the LORD God of Israel. And they kept the Feast of Unleavened Bread seven days with joy; for the LORD made them joyful, and turned the heart of the king of Assyria toward them, to strengthen their hands in the work of the house of God, the God of Israel. – Ezra 6v21-22
There is a joke among Baptist that says that when we say ‘fellowship’ we actually mean ‘eat.’ As a long time (36 year) Baptist I have to say that there is some credence to that statement. We do love to eat and church fellowship dinners and the Southern ‘dinner on the grounds’ are indeed a part of our heritage. I realise that this idea can be carried too far, but I am not so sure that it is totally wrong.
In the setting above the nation has finished the work of the temple. Worship had been restored. They had observed Passover. And then we read, ‘the children of Israel who had returned from captivity ate together.’
The importance of sharing a meal runs not only through the Bible, but also through culture. Eating together is something of a great equaliser. Sitting around a common table brings everyone together for a common purpose.
This practice carried on to the early church. We read of the early church that they observed the Lord’s Table together, but that they also shared meals from house to house.
Eating together does not preclude true fellowship. In fact, the word of God indicates that the two go together well.
So enjoy some true fellowship and share a meal with someone today!