If a food artist is something a person can be, then my friend Joy is one. I got to know Joy during my Alpine Pilgrimage experience last summer. She provided logistical support for our hikes which included transporting our luggage from point to point, driving up, down, over, and through Alpine passes while cheerfully accompanied by her daughter in the back seat. Joy shopped locally each day and assembled lunches for us to carry in our packs. Rather than gorp and granola, which serve as staple provisions for most day hikers, Joy supplied us with local meats and cheeses, ripe apricots and tomatoes, and freshly baked baguettes and bars of Swiss chocolate.
Recently Joy posted a picture on Facebook which was taken at Lamppost Farm in Ohio, where she and her family participated in a weekend of butchering and processing pigs for food. The farm is intended as a place of experiential learning where people can encounter God and connect more deeply with his design in creation and means of provision. Joy and her family participated together with a group of roughly twenty people in the processing of four pigs, of which each family took home between a quarter and half of an animal. Participants were permitted to engage as much of the process as they felt comfortable, from the actual kill, to the draining of blood, to skinning the pig and, finally to portioning and packaging the meat. For her efforts, Joy will have available to her several roasts to be used for pulled pork, racks of spareribs and baby back ribs, ground pork for sausage, freshly smoked bacon, and cuts of picnic ham which are being cured in salt for prosciutto.
As I listened to last Sunday’s sermon, my thoughts kept returning to my friend’s picture. My pastor has been preaching a series about the Old Testament tabernacle, breathing life into passages I am too often tempted to skip past. He is walking through descriptions which appear to contain little more than repetitive detail about building measurements, furniture items, and serving pieces. Each detail, he reminds us, is in the passage for a reason. Each item in the tabernacle preaches a sermon.
During this past week’s sermon, my pastor described the bronze altar designed for offering burnt sacrifices. Daily God’s people brought lambs and goats to the tabernacle courtyard, slaughtered them, and then placed them upon the burning altar as offerings for their sin. Mingled together with the mess of blood and gore which would have attended the slaughter would also have been the delicious, fragrant aroma of meat roasting.
Few things cause my mouth to water like the smell of an outdoor summer barbecue. I recall, as a child, getting a whiff of hamburgers cooking on a neighbor’s outdoor grill and begging my father to fire up his. Nothing compares to the taste of meat freshly roasted. And Israel’s priests were given an allotment of the meat offered in sacrifice as their daily portion for serving God.
On one big day a year, the Day of Atonement, the priest was not permitted to eat of the sacrifice. Instead he placed his hands on the head of a goat, symbolically transferring the sin of all God’s people to the animal before its release into the wilderness.
I’m guessing there are some who won’t appreciate my friend’s picture of that pig, recently slaughtered and being prepared for food. Most modern people never have to get their hands dirty in securing food for their daily sustenance. Images of blood and slaughter and death are offensive, as too was the means by which the Lamb of God was offered, once for all, as atonement for sin. His sacrifice accomplished what those repeated by Old Testament priests never could, and it offered a feast toward which they could only look forward in hope:
We have an altar from which those who serve the tent have no right to eat. Hebrews 13:10 ESV
By faith, God’s people may now feast on what those ancient priests never could. Feed on him with joy, strengthening your heart by his grace.
Joining emily and her community at imperfect prose. This week’s prompt: food.