“Comfort food” first appeared in the 1972 Webster’s Dictionary. The phrase describes food that promotes a feeling of well-being and contentment. We often associate these foods with pleasant, childhood memories.
Comfort cuisine typically features a high sugar and carbohydrate content: sugary desserts, macaroni and cheese, fried chicken, grilled cheese sandwiches, or pizza. And chicken soup is always good for the soul.
Comfort food also plays an important role in the Bible. In the Old Testament, breaking bread with others was a covenantal act of faith. Manna fed the Israelites in the wilderness. The Psalmist described God: Preparing a table in the presence of mine enemies. The Jewish people described God’s coming kingdom as a Messianic Banquet.
In the New Testament, Jesus performed his first miracle at a wedding feast in Cana of Galilee. Christ did some of his best work while sitting around a table with his disciples. The only miracle recorded in all four gospels (other than the Resurrection itself) was the multiplication of the loaves and fishes. On their final night together, Jesus shared with his friends a last supper. When Christ appeared to the disciples after the Resurrection, he asked them for something to eat.
Comfort food continues to be an important part of church life today. Congregations gather each Wednesday for a Family Night Supper. We ask God’s blessings upon our meals before eating. In worship, we remember Christ’s words of institution as we partake of the loaf and cup of Holy Communion. A people of faith are also mindful of others’ needs and share their resources so that all might be full.
In the Lord’s Prayer, we ask that God would grant us our daily bread. This is not only a prayer for life’s physical sustenance but also a petition that our Lord will fulfill our every need. Jesus knew that we do not live by bread alone but by the living Word of God. The best comfort food satisfies both the body and the soul.
Those who feast on God’s Word find a comfort that this world cannot give. Nothing else will ultimately satisfy our hunger within.