Food, Friendship and The Old Oak

The Old Oak is a pub in a village in the North east. It’s on its last legs in a community struggling to make ends meet. Then a group of Syrian refugees come to live in the community and the long-closed backroom of the pub becomes an ideal location as a place for friendship and food. However the landlord TJ refuses to open the room up because it has been shut for so long and in the past he has refused it for local use. Then TJ loses his dog Marra, the dog which rescued him when he was so down he considered suicide. As he sits broken-hearted in his home one of the refugees Yara, arrives with local Tania, bringing food and comfort. And so TJ has a change of heart and in a way his beloved dog Marra saves him for a second time, her death bringing him closer to the others in his community. The back room of The Old Oak is opened up, repaired decorated and so becomes a place of warmth and friendship and vital food.
The pub has a photo on the wall from the years of the miners’ strike, the caption underneath reads When you eat together you stick together. Food is powerful, it has the ability to unite us, and to offer hope us and sustenance. I’m not at all surprised that Jesus left us a meal as a way of celebrating his new life amongst us. It was as if he was saying, you need food, you need drink, and you me.
I recently heard Grace Dent talking on Radio 4 about the power of comfort food, how so often it is tied up with good memories. And again this made me think of Jesus. He fed huge hungry crowds and made wine which rescued a wedding. He made breakfast on the beach for seven fisherman and in doing so reinstated them as his followers and friends. And the folks never forgot these experiences. And ultimately Jesus offered us the invitation to share food when we open the doors of our lives to him. (As in Revelation 3 v 20.) The greatest comfort food of friendship with him. In the desert he provided manna with a reminder that we do not live by bread alone, but we need the food of God’s word too. (Have a look at Deuteronomy 8 v 3.)
Food reminds us of God.

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