Union Ridge Church

February 8, 2023

by Reverend Dan on February 8, 2023
I read recently that America, as a nation, is overweight. I believe I have found the source of the problem and the place to which the issue can be traced. It’s a tiny little community just north of Burlington, North Carolina called Union Ridge. Whenever something happens here, good or bad, there is a power surge at Duke Energy because every oven is turned on, and every blender, mixer, microwave, and food processor is powered up. There’s also a run on butter, eggs, milk, and other items at the grocery store. I know that because when I moved here almost 16 years ago, I learned that evey recipe begins with the direction, "take one pound of butter." And the way I realized it was the 12 pounds I gained in the first 12 months. When a neighbor is grieving a death or celebrating a birth or has to go to the hospital, this community rallies like none other I have ever seen. And that support and outpouring of love is reflected through food. Lots of it, and all kinds. 

Food is an integral part of every culture. Most social settings include some type of food, and many of life’s activities are centered around it. “Let’s talk about it over lunch.” “Got time for a cup of coffee?” Major deals have been closed over business dinners. New relationships have been formed at lunch counters. Friendships have started while trying to select a pastry at the bakery. Parties, cook-outs, holidays – they all include the element of food. The ironic thing is, it’s never really about the food. The food is simply a means to an end. It’s really about togetherness. Sharing the basic need of eating while we fulfill an even more basic need: sharing in the journey of life.

When I was going through radiation for throat cancer, I realized just how important food is to our connection to other people when I couldn’t eat for 7 months and was on a feeding tube. I felt isolated. (For a more in-depth look at this issue, you can get a copy of my book, “The Cancer Chronicles” by simply emailing me at revdanficklin@gmail.com.)
When people react to a major life event (or even a minor one) by bringing enough food to feed a small army, it’s about love. The human need to feel useful. “What can I do? I know, I’ll bring them supper.” (It’s still called supper here, not dinner.) And the message it sends is even more important: “You matter to me. I love you, celebrate with you, grieve with you. You are not alone.”
The Bible is full of examples of how important food is to people, from manna for the Israelites to Jesus’s last act with His disciples: a meal. The Passover Seder. We as Christians call it “The Last Supper” and still celebrate it as Communion. Meals are part of our lives and faith heritage for they unite us and bring us together and remind us that the community is here to reflect God’s love to each other and remind us that we are never alone.

Truth be told, I know my community is not an isolated example. In reality, it’s the norm. Communities all around the world share the joys and sorrows, the highs and lows, and celebrate and mourn together while breaking bread. It is part of who we are, for it in is the realization that the love shared at the meal is as important to our souls as the food is to our bodies.​​​​​​​