I made a list of foods over the weekend (and made myself hungry doing it): Cucumbers and crackers and cheeses and grapes and tea and butter for scones. If I couldn’t remember something, I tried to imagine Bilbo’s pantry and the Dwarves’ feast as they ravaged it. After all, Hutchmoot is a place for eating like Hobbits and singing like Dwarves and doing it together.
I missed this in 2020.
When The Rabbit Room announced their annual Hutchmoot conference would be replaced by an online one, I rejoiced, because I’ve never been to Nashville for the event. So after years of savoring the story, art, and music of the Rabbit Room, I was going to taste a crumb of the feast that is Hutchmoot. (“Hutch” is the word for a rabbit’s home, by the way, and a “moot” is a meeting, so “Hutchmoot” is where hundreds of “rabbits” sit at one table. Nerdy? Oh, incredibly.)
Hutchmoot Homebound 2020 was wonderful, and it was weird. It was wonderful because I was beholding my brothers and sisters in their artful habitats— singing, strumming, gardening, painting with watercolors, and cooking colorful foods. It was weird because I took a sandwich and granola bar to my desk and watched the sessions and ate alone. I didn’t have time to labor over the beautiful meals Chef John Cal offered on the ‘Kitchen’ page, so I wondered how people around the world were gathering, feasting, and mooting together.
“On this mountain the LORD of hosts will
make for all peoples
a feast of rich food, a feast of well-aged
of rich food full of marrow, of aged wine
~ Isaiah 25:6
It’s been nearly two years since COVID crept into our gatherings and drove us apart, stealing away with our tastes and smells. On Thanksgiving Day last year, Mom worked over the oven, glazing a turkey, mashing potatoes, simmering cranberries, and crumbling pecans for pie. Dad had tested positive, and the rest of us shared his symptoms, so Drew and Leanna stood in the driveway to wish us a happy day from six feet. When we swung the front door open, they both breathed deep.
“Oh, what does it smell like?” Mom wanted to know.
The six of us sat chewing in the silence. Only Trent and I could catch hints of cinnamon, butter, and hot turkey juice, and we tried to reaffirm Mom’s work without bragging too much. But we also rehearsed God’s goodness and grace on Thanksgiving, because for some families, COVID-19 stole a person from the table.
“For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving.” ~ 1 Timothy 4:4
The Communion table looked different in 2020, too. In some ways, it felt more like a feast than before, because we put tables in the church sanctuary to distance families. When we took the bread and cup from a platter to eat and drink, we faced one another.
Now, there are rows of chairs lining the sanctuary again, and just a few Sundays ago, we took Communion, and I realized what I’d missed: I looked into my cup and drank, and filling my peripheral vision were a hundred tilted heads, drinking with me— a hundred hands, bringing bread to their mouths alongside me.
We feast to remember, but also to remind each other, and so the truest feasts are the ones we savor together.
“’This cup is the new covenant of my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.’ For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.” ~ I Corinthians 11:25-26
A year has passed, and another October is coloring the world. Bless their souls, the Rabbit Room staff has prepared another Hutchmoot Homebound for people like me to savor. But this year, I’ve got friends who have canceled their weekend plans to meet me in my basement, to spread out cucumbers and crackers and cheeses, to listen to music and look at art, and then to gather around my table and feast with my family and me.
John Piper calls feasting “the enjoyment of abundance,” and he also says it’s our “destiny.”[i] Those two definitions are bound up in my prayer for Hutchmoot Homebound 2021:
After a year of tastelessness and silence, may we taste the Lord’s abounding grace in art, in poetry, in melody, in story, and in the foods we can smell and taste (at last!).
Meanwhile, may we taste a better feast at a bigger table, where no seat is empty, where every food tastes rich, where every drink refreshes us, and where we savor the abundance together, because King Jesus has set the table and poured the wine and broken the bread so we could “Come” and “Feast” with him.
“Again he sent the other servants, saying, ‘Tell those who are invited, ‘See, I have prepared my dinner, my oxen and my fat calves have been slaughtered, and everything is ready.
““Come to the wedding feast.’’”
~ Matthew 22:4
[i] Piper, John. “Ingredients for a Theology of Feasting.” Ask Pastor John, ep. 1687, desiringGod.org (4 Oct., 2021), https://www.desiringgod.org/interviews/ingredients-for-a-theology-of-feasting