I grew up in Rwanda, which is in East Africa. Most of my life experience was shaped there. I have always felt that my life was linked with God. There were many moments that were unforgettable. To me, East Africa has lush green vegetation and beautiful hills with fertile land that is the bread basket of surrounding regions. Locals often say that hard work combined with a sense of community can achieve anything to which they set their minds. There was always this strong and undeniable sense of hope as their livelihood was from the land.
I became a serious Christian in the aftermath of the Rwandan Genocide in 1994. In a way, I had been complacent all of my life up to that point. The life I had known before seemed distant when we became refugees in the neighboring country. The locals were so kind to us; they brought food and gladly shared everything. There was never enough for their own families. This kind of Christianity was so authentic that we didn’t resist an invitation to attend their Christian worship services.
The food was so delicious but there wasn’t much variety. It was mostly boiled dry beans cooked in palm oil, with cassava flour made into thick porridge. Our hosts were so joyful and they took pity on us, even though we thought they were living in abject poverty. I can’t tell you how precious these meals were to us! It was like a feast every day. I realized that this experience was one of living in a real community of faith: true in word and deed. Food can bring people, families and even countries together. There was a film called Babette’s Feast (1987) which tells a story of a French refugee who cooked sumptuous meals. This rallied the community together, and found a purpose and enjoyment in life. All this indicates a strong relationship between food and faith.
In America, we strive to prepare the best foods. How about a similar preparation in our lives? A preparation to receive the ultimate gift from God to our hearts and souls: Jesus Christ, who leads us to a daily attempt to live a life worthy of God. Christian believers are alive in Christ when sharing the Holy Eucharist just as it was in the Ancient Church. Bread and wine are essential elements in recalling the event that brought salvation to humanity at the crucifixion. This symbolism of bread in Jewish culture brings to mind the bread of heaven that fed the Israelites in the wilderness, which now is being brought into focus as Jesus Christ, who is the bread of life. The faith of Christian believers is strengthened each time they share in this Holy Communion.
You might have heard the proverbial saying “We are what we eat!” It is the notion that to be healthy, you need to eat nutritious food! The same may apply with anything we feed our minds. We need to choose well what we allow our minds to dwell on! Holy Scriptures are our best companion: they lay down a pathway towards healthy living and wholeness. At times, they will guide us, showing us that some of the things are unnecessary in our lives! May the year 2020 be the best beginning of a new you!
Fr. Christian Senyoni, Associate Rector
Saint Andrew’s Episcopal Church