Saturday, January 31, 2015

A collection of unusual dishes

In about every church I knew as a little girl, the lower level of the building was not deemed the basement, but the ubiquous Fellowship Hall, a place where the people came to eat, to celebrate weddings with cake and coffee, and to do life together.  I witnessed jello mold salads and every chicken casserole known to man and desserts of which there were never enough.  Big long rectangular folding tables and cold metal folding chairs emerged from the storage closet, all in beige.

And we ate.

These gatherings were known as potlucks, a word synonymous at the time with "church."  It was a time not of meeting, but of meeting needs.  As we ate, we talked and learned to love each other even more, across generations, cultures, no matter family size or singleness.

These potlucks are not just a memory for me, but a strong reminder of what church family should be.

Three months ago, we moved to a new location.  Last night, my husband and I attended a potluck in our new church.  It was a potluck disguised as an annual chili competition.  Chairs in the sanctuary had been moved, long tables ran down both sides of the hall, groaning under the myriad of slow cookers with some of the finest chili anywhere around.  And of course, desserts decorated the end of the line, crowding up against the entrees like children jostling for position.

My own "chili de Dios" didn't stand a chance against the competition of those including cinnamon chipotle chili, another made of bison, and one entitled  "chili, chili, bang bang."  We all laughed and ate and talked and let fellowship work its strength in us.

A collection of unusual dishes had convened, but even more as I looked around the room, a collection of people, all of whom are precious in His sight.

It was not an "event," but a gathering together.  And that's the way it should be among family.  We need each other.

By the end of the evening, nearly all the food had vanished.  And we left, not just with empty platters and crock pots, but with a table full of new friends.

I have never regretted making the effort to be with God's people.  Sometimes it is hard to jump in, sometimes not so obvious a reason, but God uses it for His powerful purposes.  And that sometimes means it is not about me at all and sometimes exactly what I need.   Relationships are what God uses most of all.  That is why He sent His Son.

Let us consider
how to stir up
        one another
to love and good works,
not neglecting to meet together,
as is the habit of some,
but encouraging one another,
and all the more
as you see the Day drawing near.

                Hebrews 10. 24-25

Because worship
         and fellowship
are in the same fleet.

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