Food is God’s gift in creation, but today it’s often either cheap junk, grabbed on-the-run, or an ethical nightmare and a cause of injustice and suffering. This pack aims to help you reclaim a biblical understanding of food – as something at the centre of our lives, a source of celebration and joy and a way of bringing God’s Kingdom values of justice and restored relationships into our lives.

Does it matter if our food is junk?

Food is God’s gift in creation, but today it’s often either cheap junk, grabbed on-the-run, or an ethical nightmare and a cause of injustice and suffering.

This pack aims to help you reclaim a biblical understanding of food – as something at the centre of our lives, a source of celebration and joy and a way of bringing God’s Kingdom values of justice and restored relationships into our lives.

  • Authors: Marie Birkinshaw, Dave Bookless, Pip Campbell-Clause, Jenny Greenhouse, Linda Taylor
  • Publisher: A Rocha UK
  • Licensing: CC BY-SA 4.0

1. All Good Gifts Around Us: Celebrating God’s gift of food

Sermon

The following sermon is based on Genesis 1:26–31 and John 2:1–11, which focus on food as God’s gift in creation and the central role it plays in our relationship with God and each other. It explores four values to cultivate when we look about food biblically – celebration, abundance, dependence and community/relationship. We are also encouraged with a call to action at personal, church/community and political levels.

There is a PowerPoint presentation with slides to accompany this sermon, although it is not essential.

  • Authors: Dave Bookless, Pip Campbell-Clause
  • Bible references: Genesis 1, John 2, Acts 14

Bible study

The following bible study is based on Genesis 1:26–31, and ties together the theme of celebrating food through small group activities, discussion questions and a film suggestion.

  • Author: Pip Campbell-Clause
  • Bible reference: Genesis 1

Prayers

These prayers can be used during the small group bible study on celebrating food. They include approach, confession, collect, intercession, thanksgiving and blessing prayers.

  • Author: Marie Birkinshaw

Children’s activities

The following ideas are suggestions of games/activities that link to the five food themes that shape the sermon and bible study series in this pack. Depending on your group, feel free to experiment with the age appropriateness and adapt any of the ideas.

  • Author: Jenny Greenhouse
  • Bible reference: Genesis 1

2. The Price We Pay For Food: Thinking biblically about food systems

Sermon

Food is about relationships – with ourselves, the land, other people and with God. Today, many of those relationships are unhealthy, distorted or broken. Some biblical principles to help us include:

  • Remembering – that the world and all it produces, including food, are God’s
  • Restraint – in not pushing the land beyond its limits and recognising it is not just to provide profit for a few people, but to sustain all living creatures.
  • Respect – for people, for animals and for the earth itself.

This sermon is based on Leviticus 25:1–12, 18–24 (The Sabbath of the Land) & Luke 12:16–21 (The Parable of the Rich Landowner). It includes an optional PowerPoint presentation to illustrate the sermon.

  • Authors: Pip Campbell-Clause, Dave Bookless
  • Bible references: Leviticus 25, Luke 12

Bible study

(Not available)

Prayers

These prayers, written specifically for this theme, include Approach, Confession, Collect, Intercession, Thanksgiving, and Blessing.

  • Author: Marie Birkinshaw

Children’s activities

This resource includes several different activities on the topic of food, for young people ages 8 to 16.

  • Author: Jenny Greenhouse
  • Bible reference: Luke 12

3. Just Food: Eat LESS: Justice, community and relationship

In the light of our current food system’s problems, we look at a ‘just food’ system with the Bible’s help. One mnemonic to help is ‘Eat LESS’. Not only is this about reducing quantities of food and waste, but about eating food that is: Local • Ethical • Seasonal • Slow.

Sermon

  • Authors: Pip Campbell-Clause, Dave Bookless
  • Bible references: Luke 4, 1 Corinthians 10

Bible study

A Bible study centred around the issues of food and justice. It includes the following:

  • Jargon Buster
  • Food Charades
  • Yes/No Game
  • Bible readings
  • Thought for Food
  • ‘Just Food’ Video Clip
  • ‘Just Food’ Spider Diagram
  • Prayer
  • Suggested Film: The Power of Community
  • Author: Pip Campbell-Clause
  • Bible references: Leviticus 25, Luke 4

Prayers

These prayers around the topic of food and justice, include Approach, Confession, Collect, Petition, Intercession, Meditation, Thanksgiving, and Blessing. Each prayer is based on a Bible passage.

  • Author: Marie Birkinshaw
  • Bible references: Isaiah 26; Jonah 1; Jonah 3; Mark 10; John 15; Romans 12

Children’s activities

A number of resources related to food and justice, for young people ages 3 to 13+:

  • Food Map (10+)
  • Food Charades (Age 13+)
  • Bible Background: Luke 4:16–21
  • Fair Trade, Seasonal Picnic (All Ages)
  • Potato Printing Potato Poems (3-8)
  • Prayer
  • Author: Jenny Greenhouse
  • Bible reference: Luke 4

4. Bread of Life: Living out the values of God’s Kingdom in our food

Sermon

We’re reminded of how our current food system leads to a breakdown in relationships, before looking at the vision of Hosea 2:18-23 – of harmony and restored relationships throughout creation. Two marks of this:

  • An end to violence
  • New values – righteousness and justice, love and compassion
  • Authors: Dave Bookless, Pip Campbell-Clause
  • Bible references: Hosea 2, John 6

Bible study

The ‘Bread of Life: Kingdom Food’ Bible study includes the following items:

  1. Food Bingo
  2. Scrambled Bible Verses
  3. Bible text: John 6:5–12 & 48–51
  4. Thought for Food
  5. Watch Film Clip – ‘Bread of Life’
  6. Sharing Stories
  7. Pledge Tree
  8. Film Suggestion: ‘Grow your Own’
  • Author: Pip Campbell-Clause
  • Bible reference: John 6

Prayers

A number of prayers around the theme of ‘Bread of Life’, for times such as Approach, Confession, Petition, Proclamation, Collect, Intercession, Meditation, Thanksgiving, and Blessing.

  • Author: Marie Birkinshaw
  • Bible references: Isaiah 1, Mark 4, John 6, 2 Corinthians 9

Children’s activities

This resource includes bread- and food-related activities for young people of all ages:

  1. Scrambled Bible Verses (Ages 9+)
  2. Bread Making Banquet (Any Age)
  3. Bible Background: John 6:5–12
  4. Food Bingo (10+)
  5. Plant a Sunflower (Any Age)
  6. Prayer
  • Author: Jenny Greenhouse
  • Bible reference: John 6

5. Feeding the Body of Christ: Holy Communion & the heavenly banquet

Sermon

Eating is central, both in the Eucharist / Holy Communion and to Jesus’ pictures of God’s Kingdom as the heavenly banquet. All our eating today – around the ‘Lord’s table’ and around our own tables, should reflect and anticipate the values of God’s coming Kingdom. The values that unite Eucharist and Banquet include

  • Eating together – with others, with strangers, with those who produce food
  • Eating well – quality and ethics in eucharist and all our meals
  • Eating with Jesus – both in terms of presence and values
  • Eating in anticipation – of God’s coming Kingdom
  • Authors: Dave Bookless, Pip Campbell-Clause
  • Bible references: Luke 14, 1 Corinthians 12

Bible study

This Bible study draws a comparison between the Eucharist / Holy Communion and the banquet in God’s Kindgom, includes the following aspects:

  1. Pray
  2. Baking Bread
  3. Bible text: Luke 14:1 & 7–24
  4. Thought for Food
  5. ‘Banqueting Table’ Spider Diagram
  6. Break Bread
  7. Pray
  8. Film Suggestion: Eat, Drink, Man, Woman
  • Author: Pip Campbell-Clause
  • Bible reference: Luke 14

Prayers

A set of prayers centred around the Eucharist / Holy Communion for diverse moments in the service, such as Approach, Confession, Collect, Intercession, Thanksgiving, and Blessing.

  • Author: Marie Birkinshaw
  • Bible references: Isaiah 63, Matthew 3

Children’s activities

This resource includes activities for children ages 6 to 16:

  1. Food Pictionary (ages 6–12)
  2. Bible Background: Luke 14:1 & 7–24
  3. Picturing the New Creation
  4. ‘Thinking the Impossible’ (10–16)
  5. Prayer: Salt dough sculptures
  • Author: Jenny Greenhouse
  • Bible reference: Luke 14

6. Worship Resources

A list of worship resources related to food.

Holy Communion Liturgy on Food (prepared by Rev Dave Bookless)

Informal Service Order (prepared by Pippa Campbell-Clause)

Note: Song “We are Blessed” by Andy Flanagan (MP3, PDF & PowerPoint) not included in this online version

  • Authors: Dave Bookless, Pip Campbell-Clause, Lynda Taylor
  • Bible references: Proverbs 16, Proverbs 17, Proverbs 20

7. Going Deeper

Go deeper in your renewed relationship with food and justice issues with these extra resources:

  • ‘A Rocha UK Friends’ (printable leaflet to sign up as a Friend of A Rocha UK) (not included)
  • GrowZones (introduction to a practical way of community food-growing) (not included)
  • ‘Jesus is coming: Plant a tree’ (superb creation theology from N. T. [Tom] Wright): read on the Plough magazine
  • ‘A Living Creature’ (Biblical perspective on land use by Prof. Ellen Davis) (not included)
  • ‘Eucharistic Eating’ (Essay on intensive meat-production as idolatry by Prof. Michael Northcott): read on academia.edu
  • ‘Salmon and Sacrament’ (Eucharist as protest against global capitalism by Prof. M. Northcott) (not included)
  • UN Agro-ecology Report: download from srfood.org
  • Foresight Report – Future of Food & Farming: download summary from gov.uk

Our daily bread: Food in God’s creation

An essential background paper written by Proj R J Berry especially for this resource pack. Available as a separate resource.

Featured image: Big broccoli, by Wendell Ward (CC BY-NC-SA)