Have you eaten yet?

An Easter Reflection by Jenna, a Partner in Southeast Asia

As we reflect on Easter, the Good Friday meal, and the concept of communion.  I’d like to pose a question: Who is sitting at your table?  Are there people who represent all embodiments of our Lord around you?  How can you make your table more diverse to reflect what Heaven will truly look like?

Earlier in the week, I was speaking to a Southeast Asian follower of Jesus about how believers here talk about Easter and Jesus’ resurrection to their non-believing friends.  His answer was quite simple, “We eat together and talk.”  Eating together is something that people here are amazing at.  It is at the center of their culture—to the extent that you don’t ask someone “How are you?” but instead ask, “Have you eaten yet?”

As a foreigner living and serving in Southeast Asia, I’ve come to appreciate this focus on the cultural practice of spending time together in community discussing scripture.  Sure, knowing the Bible and having interpretations of it can serve you well.  I’m not denying that as both a Biblical and lived-out truth, but I find myself continuing to ask: What good does all this knowledge and application mean if I have no one to share it with?

It has been a rough year back home—COVID, protests, and forest fires.  On top of that, throughout the year attacks on people from Asian minority groups have escalated. I’m appalled at the news reports I read from the States. Yes, the news reaches here. The same globalization responsible for chocolate Easter eggs in Southeast Asia, is also the reason I’m finding myself being asked, “Why do Americans own guns?”  “Why do you shoot people who look like me?”  For moments like this, I’m at a loss of language and words to answer.  I’m sure you feel the same way.  But what I can do is say, “It’s wrong.”  “I love you,” and, “I will talk with my friends.”

This is what my spiritual reflection has been on. I’m here to talk with you, my friends.  I am asking you to speak up and out when others around you use incorrect, rude, and racialized terms.  (35% of Asian discrimination happens at the workplace).  Learn how to pronounce and respect the names of your co-workers, friends, and classmates.  Remember that everyone is made in God’s image, even Asians, even women.  (Asian women are twice as likely to experience harassment).  

Make an effort this week; support an Asian family-owned business.  Everyone has been hit hard by COVID, but Asian restaurants even more so.  Order take-out, if safe check out a new spot.  Ask questions about the dish and who made it.  Turn it into a cultural learning moment for your family, kids, and friends.  Who knows, maybe your table will grow bigger and more diverse in the process.  

This season where there is so much to celebrate with our risen King, let’s not forget that the whole world will rejoice.  Wouldn’t it be so much more fun at the party if everyone had a seat?  

How are you? Have you eaten yet?