The Archdeacon of Portsdown on helping everyone feast at the table
AT what point in the Christmas season do you feel you’ve had too many turkey dinners and mince pies?
When does the feeling of gluttony weigh heavily on your mind as well as on your waistline?
For me, it’s as early as Boxing Day, and I plan this year to keep up with my new hobby of running, as well as going easy on the Christmas pudding and chocolates.
The 12 days of Christmas, a time of calorific celebration that takes us through to Epiphany, will only just have begun by then.
But when Christmas has been all around us in shops and restaurants since mid-November, we might be forgiven for looking forward to a bit of abstinence.
Church life has traditionally had its times of feasting and fasting, of exuberance and of restraint.
We step back from the usual pleasures for a season to sharpen our physical and spiritual appetites.
Church life also often revolves around eating together, sharing lives and events around the table, whether the kitchen table or the Communion table.
Churches in Portsmouth enjoy their big feasts and festivals, as well as paying attention to people’s ordinary, habitual need for food and company in everyday ways.
In 2017, the weekday cafe at St Mark’s North End, and the Sunday Suppers at St Simon’s, Southsea, have fed hundreds of people and given them a place in the community.
Ark Charter C of E Academy’s soup kitchen fed many homeless people on Boxing Day and provided toiletries and fresh clothes for them.
Pioneer ministers in Gosport and Leigh Park have fed the community with donations from local businesses and individuals.
They have prevented food waste by using unsold supermarket products, and befriended people who would normally eat alone.
Many of our churches have seen more families than ever before using foodbanks and seeking emergency help.
Throughout the year, churches contribute in myriad practical ways to make sure people are fed.
Whenever we write our post-Christmas resolutions to eat less, we might do it not just for our waistlines and wellbeing, but also to feel more connected to the needs and hungers of people around us.
Away from our comfort foods, a hunger for justice might kick in.
A desire that no one should ever go hungry, and no one needs more than their fair share.
Local churches and foodbanks will gladly tell you how to donate food – and your time and talents – to help everyone feast at the table together.