Time Together

Brothers and sisters,
As I write this article, I’m preparing to go on vacation with my family. I’m working on getting volunteers lined up to lead the different parts of the worship service on the 17th. I’m thinking about what all I need to purchase before I go to the beach, with sunscreen being priority number one! And I’m thinking about what all my family and I will do once we
get to the beach. But there’s another thing on my mind as well.

Today is my friend’s birthday! I would imagine most of you have, at some point, heard me talk about my friend Dustin. Well, today he turns thirty-three! Dustin is one of my closest friends, but also one of my oldest friends. We met twenty-five years ago, around this time of year, when he invited me to his eighth birthday party. Since then, he and I have grown up together and have experienced so much of life together. Back in high school, we spent plenty of Saturdays with friends playing games, swimming, and eating pizza.

We’ve struggled through classes in middle and high school together. We’ve been there for each other when family members have died and relationships have ended. We’ve celebrated huge moments in our careers with each other—my graduation from Duke Divinity and his passing of the Professional Engineer Exam.

But when I think about my friendship with Dustin, one of the first things that jumps to mind is our time together in college. Dustin and I were roommates for two years at Carolina before he transferred to NC State to pursue a degree in Environmental Engineering. Even though we were roommates most of our time in the dorm room was spent studying or working on homework. Because of that, we started intentionally carving out time each week to have lunch together at a restaurant on Franklin Street. We would meet up somewhere on campus each week and then make our way to any number of restaurants—Mama Dip’s, Bon’s, Franklin Street Pizza and Pasta, Los Potrillos, B-Ski’s, etc. It was a wonderful time when we could get away from the stress of classes and just be present with each other, catching up on how things were going. Regardless of how stressful our schedules were, we would find time to share a meal together. We could take time to rest and encourage each other, even when we were tired and stressed.

So often in the scriptures, whenever food is mentioned, it serves to bring people together. It gives the people in the Bible a moment of respite, to breathe and reconnect. Sometimes they reconnect with each other. Sometimes they re-connect with God. Meals end up serving as precious moments in the gospels where Jesus can speak to people about the eternal love that God has for them. When Abraham entertains the angels of the Lord unaware, he does so with food, and he is able to build an unshakeable bond with God. When the prophets envision the heavens, they envision meals that are served at tables where everyone has a seat. God knows human beings very well. God knows that when we take time to break bread with each other, we build community with other people. God knows that we need community and God knows that the communities we build can endure all kinds of issues. The communities we build can withstand the test of time and enrich our lives. Every one of the restaurants I mentioned earlier, except Mama Dip’s, has gone out of business. But the connection Dustin and I built over meals in those restaurants continues. I’m grateful for those meals and for that time together.

Grace and peace to you all,
Pastor Ben