New Providence Presbyterian Church - Maryville, TN
Monday, April 24, 2017
Youth E-news Articles
You Are What You Eat
Focus Scripture – Leviticus 1-2
This Sunday in our senior high Sunday school class, we talked about food as spiritual practice. We all know about the importance of food in communion, but what we focused on was how our everyday meals can be something that affects our faith, and how we interact with others.
In this week’s lesson, Sara Miles talks about how the extreme ends of the food spectrum each have their own challenges. To be always struggling to find food, always wondering where you will find your next meal, is, “bad for the soul” Sara tells us. The constant struggle to stave of hunger leaves time for little else, and those of us who have never experienced that (except maybe a semester of college) find it hard to understand just how taxing that can be. Conversely, the ever growing obsession with local, farm-to-table, pesticide free, non gmo, craft brewed, micro distilled, hydroponically grown first world food can be equally trying, but for different reasons. When food becomes so narrow, so elite, it becomes exclusionary. It becomes a way to tell who belongs to your group, and who doesn’t. “Oh, you don’t know about the new antibiotic free, organic grass fed, natural death only, Feng shui designed hamburger restaurant Peace of Meat? Well, you just have to go. They have an urban foraged black truffle and humanely sourced dark chocolate milkshake that will just knock your socks off” Food becomes a way to keep people apart, rather than bring people together.
In Leviticus, we read some of the Jewish laws about food, and some of them can seem a little strange. Why can’t they eat hares? Or rock badgers? If they touch a pig, it really makes them unclean until sundown? These rules, written for a minority group struggling to maintain their identity, served their intended purpose of community cohesiveness back then, but in the New Testament, we see that perhaps they have run their course. Jesus routinely shared meals with people who were unclean, and in the book of Mark, we even see him declare all foods clean. “14 Then he called the crowd again and said to them, “Listen to me, all of you, and understand: 15 there is nothing outside a person that by going in can defile, but the things that come out are what defile. Mark 7:14-15.”
Food should bring us together, not tear us apart, it should build us up and not break us down. Take a minute to think about the best meal memories you have. Are they more about the food you ate, or the people with whom you shared it? Think about any times where food has been a barrier to relationship building, or when it has been something that brought people together. We all need to eat, and it’s something that many of us take for granted, but spend some time this week thinking about how food could be spiritual practice for you.
The First Couple
Focus Scripture – Genesis 1-2
This week, our Junior High Sunday school class began their summer curriculum, Reform: Ancestors. This curriculum focuses on the characters of the Old Testament, and how they weave into the story of God’s people. And, as there is no better place to start than the beginning, this week we started with Adam and Eve.
The creation story is one we hear often, but one that carries many important lessons. In the curriculum for this week, we focus on three different aspects of the story: rules, names, and blame. Adam and Eve had one rule, just one, a rule that was supposed to give them freedom and keep them safe, but they found themselves unable to follow that rule. The students were asked what their one rule would be for certain situations. They were asked what their one home rule would be, or their one school rule would be, and what it would be like if everyone followed that one rule. Sometimes, especially as teenagers, it can seem as if there are a thousand rules to follow, and half of them are a secret until you break them. What would it be like to only have one rule, and could we maybe get to all the other rules from the Golden Rule?
Names become an important topic in this scripture as well. God names Adam and Eve, but then allows them to name everything else. Adam means man of the earth, and Eve means life, what does your name mean? Do you think that the meaning of your name has an impact on how you view yourself? Students were asked to come up with alternate names for objects in the room, and then talk about how the name of a thing can affect the perception of a thing.
And lastly we talk about blame. We humans are always so concerned with blame, whether it be finding somewhere to place blame, or seeking to avoid it ourselves. In the creation story, we see Adam and Eve both try to shirk the blame of breaking their one rule. Why do you think Adam and Eve tried to pass the blame? Why do you think it is so hard for us to accept the blame when we mess up? We are quick to take responsibility for the good we do, but loathe to accept the bad. God, however, ultimately knows our sins whether we admit them or not, and loves us the same. For Adam and Eve, there were consequences for their actions, but God clothes them before he sends them into the wilderness. God knows that creation is not perfect, but loves us nonetheless.