I like it because at the end of the day there is a finished product that you can taste and, if you are lucky, enjoy. I enjoy it because while you are cooking there are so many sights and sounds and tastes to engage; it is a rich experience. I love it because it moves toward people gathered together for a meal and conversation. Years ago someone noted that Jesus seemed to love dinner parties because many of the recorded stories we have of Jesus with his disciples are set around a meal, the Last Supper being a central example.
“This is my body broken for you, this is my blood poured out for you and for all.” “Take and eat.”
Meals and conversations are essential ways we gather and discuss the issues that give us passion and those that divide us. A meal shared can give us hope and can open new pathways to solutions for problems we have in families, in church communities and in the wider society.
Next week the church will again walk into the season of Lent and in many of our communities there is a tradition of a common meal shared on a weeknight with classes attached for those who can stay. What an excellent time to consider how we might learn once again to listen to each other and how to look for shared common Gospel values that can guide us in this particular time as a community. I do hope many of you can be a part of such a weekly experience this Lent.
Soon the diocesan staff will begin to read a book* about congregational life as we build a common understanding of the challenges faced by parish leaders. (I suspect, whether we plan it or not, there may be food involved in these conversations!) We are engaging this work so that we can continue to serve you, the people and leaders of the Diocese of Oregon, as we together create the church in God’s mission.
I pray you enjoy the last Sunday in Epiphany and bid you prepare for a holy Lent.
*Some of you will wonder what book we have chosen and I will share the title with a little reluctance, because I do not like the title and I do not think it really reflects what the book is about! The title is: Ten Dumb Things Churches Do and How to Avoid Them. It was written by an Episcopal priest and for me it is really about ten smart things churches do and how to keep on doing them. I suspect that the publisher felt the title they gave the book would sell more copies…such is life.