This past couple of weeks or so I've been straining against the confines of my 'diet' - perhaps more so because the end is closer than it has been for ages (what a surprise). At home it is fairly easy to adapt, once you've changed around your store cupboard and learned alternative recipes, but a diet that is both yeast free and dairy free is a challenge when out at an event or visiting someone. Sorry, no, I can't have that. No, sorry, I can't have that either. It can actually get rather awkward. Plus I end up sitting around with my tummy rumbling and my waistband getting so loose you could perch a sizeable kitten in it (not that I'd want to).
Coincidentally, the 'end' of this exclusion diet will be around Easter itself - although re-introduction will be deliberately slow. It will feel like coming to the end to a Lenten fast - except it's lasted six months instead of 40 days. It's not been a fast for that kind of reason, of course, and I shouldn't tell you if I had been 'fasting' in this way.
Interesting tangent - should Christians even ask each other what we're giving up for Lent? Didn't Jesus say we weren't to draw attention the the fact? Fascinating to reflect on this, and may consider it at a later date. In the meantime, I will steer myself back on course, because what I have to say is important (gosh).
Despite not fasting for this kind of reason, nonetheless my diet of denial keeps reminding me of the sheer luxury and amount of our food we have in our culture. The array of food lined up as refreshments at events, party food, dining out, cookery books and culinary programmes - what new taste can we find? Who is the best chef, anyway?
We have so much. As I consider this, the words from Mary's song leap into my mind -
He has filled the hungry with good things but has sent the rich away empty. - Luke 1:53
That's God's way; that's good news. His is the way we don't expect, defying predictability, turning everything around.
We are so rich. Many have no choice as to what they eat - or even if they eat. Rumbly tummies and minor hunger pangs are nothing compared to the sufferings of those who struggle to eat once a day. Are we, as the body of Christ, as representatives of the good news, enacting the kingdom principles of the first being last, of the poor being blessed, of the hungry being filled?
Last week I attended a public talk at which I heard the following statistic. I wrote it down and stared at it, underlining it as if I needed convincing further.
Annually, 850 million people suffer from being malnourished, while 1 billion are clinically ill from obesity.
The extreme is gut-wrenching.
Everything is the wrong way round when compared to the pattern of the kingdom. And we cannot escape it; we cannot profess ignorance. In a culture where our communities are vast and our networks worldwide, can we really exist in our little bubble of plenty and assume we'll get a pat on the back and a smile?
- He has filled the hungry with good things but has sent the rich away empty.
- 850 million people suffer from being malnourished, while 1 billion are clinically ill from obesity.
My disappointment at not being able to eat a cupcake is laughable.
Image: BBC Good Food website