On This COVID Christmas, Food Is Love and to Feast Is to Worship

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Don’t let the pandemic prevent you from cooking and relishing the incarnate tastes of God’s grace.

Round numbers tend to be big in bad ways, and 2020 met every expectation. Looking back, it’s hard to recall a year more fraught with gut-churning distress. Mix a global pandemic killing close to 2 million with racial upheaval, a bizarro US presidential election season, and economic turbulence. Pour in never-ending conflicts in places like Afghanistan and Yemen. Stir and warm over a planet heating up year after year, and you have the makings for a grim apocalyptic stew.

No wonder many have wondered whether the end is nigh. The prophets predicted pestilence and plague, hubristic leaders, wars and famine, as well as cosmic disruption. Jesus cautioned against searching for signs, but he warned against complacency too (Mark 13:5–10). Should the Lord indeed return before Christmas, it could be construed as the best present ever, but given the delay, we’ve learned to wait wearily.

Nevertheless, Jesus said to “be on guard! Be alert!” (v. 33), to which some manuscripts add “and pray.”The late Eugene Peterson, in true Advent fashion, preached of prayer as a kind of expectant waiting, a “disciplined refusal to act before God acts.” Lent invites us to couple prayer with fasting as we penitently await God’s judgment. But at Advent and Christmas, we pray and feast in anticipation of Christ’s return and God’s justification.

Constrained as we are on this COVID Christmas, festival feasting is bereft of the family and friends customarily surrounding our tables. Resigned to a relative few (if that) to abate the viral surge, the temptation might be to prepare less when it comes to Christmas cooking and baking. We’ll eat, but more to alleviate …

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