Locally sourced restaurants are gradually becoming my favorite places to eat.  In case you are not familiar with this term, a locally sourced restaurant feature food that is produced by local farmers.  These restaurants typically provide a list of the nearby farms who are supplying the food they are serving so you know exactly where your food is coming from.  “Farm to table” is another phrase used to describe these restaurants because the restaurants buy directly from the farmers,  getting the food from the farm  to the diner’s table as quickly as possible.  “Eat local.”  Whether eating at a restaurant or shopping at a grocery or other store, this motto sums up the commitment to support the local community and to have a close relationship with those that feed us.

I like at least two things about locally sourced restaurants.  I like that the food is healthy, fresh, whole, and delicious.  Although the diner may have fewer options to choose from on the menu of such a restaurant, the freshness and quality of the food more than make up for this.   The other thing I like about eating at these restaurants is that I know that I am supporting local farmers, knowing if I wanted to visit one of their farm that the farmers would most likely welcome me, and be happy and proud to show me what they do.  These reasons together serve to create a different dining experience with better taste and a different feel than if instead my food was coming from some  distant, nameless source.

Recently, I happened to eat dinner at a locally sourced restaurant in Chicago  after doing some Christmas shopping.  As I sat there enjoying my dinner with my wife, I suddenly had this “aha” moment, and I would like to share that moment with you.  It struck me during dinner at this ‘farm to table’ restaurant that this whole concept of a locally sourced restaurant is a simple, yet powerful, metaphor that captures  the theological meaning of Christmas.  Stay with me now….I know this may seem like a stretch.

Christmas is God’s love, locally sourced.  The birth of Christ was and is God’s way of making God’s love known to each of us at the local level, in our very hearts.  While theological terms such as “immanence, incarnation, and Emmanuel” are often associated with the birth of Jesus, I prefer “locally sourced,” because, for me, this phrase captures the essence of what Christmas is about.  God is not distant and nameless, but instead is close, someone we can know and who also feeds us. Christmas is God’s love, locally sourced, served directly to our tables.

We at Living Compass wish all of you most holy Christmas.  We recognize that this can be a very hard and sad time of year for many people, and so we pray that those who are grieving may know the comfort of God’s locally sourced love. And for those of you who are fortunate to be able to gather with friends and family, we hope that your gatherings will contain an abundant amount of locally sourced peace, joy, and love.

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