What would the approach to Christmas be without a Christmas cooking special? Count on Jamie Oliver to deliver with Jamie’s Festive Feast. But before your inner Grinch leaps in to say, “That’s not the real meaning of Christmas!” take a moment to think about God’s feel for food…
Jamie’s Festive Feast might look like just another way to cash in on Christmas, and in one respect it is. The hour long special on comfort food for the approaching holidays is much like any other cooking show – Jamie in a range of frosty outdoor locations, tumbling ingredients into pans with his trademark Cockney flair, declaring with lip-smacking joy, these are “… my best recipes for some fantastic festive feasts!” And what can you look forward to? The expected but still entertaining twists on old favourites – Bloody Mary Beef, Festive Pork Belly Tacos, Spicey Hot Chocolate… It’s salivating, simple television that trades on our love of celebration, good food and the company of family and friends. But is it Christmas?
At this time of year I think we Christians have to be just a little careful of coming off as 21st century versions of Scrooge. You know the sort of thing: reminding people there are no Christmas trees in the Bible, suggesting the only gifts pleasing to God involve goats in the Third World, pointing out that ‘Santa’ is an anagram of ‘Satan’… none of which are likely to win friends or influence people. Now, it is true that the core of this festive season should be the birth of Jesus, God’s gift to the world for the salvation of all who believe. However we can be so determined to preserve the purity of the message that we forget what a central role celebration should have in our marking the occasion.
Mixing up a batch of ‘Leftover Cheese Pasta’, Jamie reflects on the connection between food, rest and joy:
“This is the kind of food you want at this time of year – absolutely, unadulterated indulgence. All you’ve got to do now is get a plate of this, collapse on a sofa, watch a film… Happy days.”
It might sound decadent but its not far off the hedonistic picture the Bible provides of that last day when God will gather all His children to Himself:
“On this mountain the Lord Almighty will prepare
a feast of rich food for all peoples,
a banquet of aged wine—
the best of meats and the finest of wines.”
God is the creator of all pleasures, the original hedonist if you like. His Son, Jesus, was a well-known partygoer. It’s foolish to lift Christ from Christmas, but attempting to trim the festive out of the festive season puts us the seat of the Pharisees. More so, it misses the entire point. Christians should be known for their whole-hearted enjoyment of Christmas, beginning with the myriad of meals that take their cue from that one great banquet Christ has invited us to. By all means take up Jamie’s recipes, revel in the pleasure they bring, and use them to point to something really worth celebrating. There may be times for mourning and fasting, but December 25 is not one of them because is reminds us not only of the baby who was born but the saviour who came to stay:
Jesus answered, “How can the guests of the bridegroom fast while he is with them? They cannot, so long as they have him with them.”
Distributor: Network TEN
Release Date: December 11