I consider the potlucks at the churches I serve (Salem and Belmont) to be legendary, but Sunday’s meal was one for the record books…and for a reason you might not expect.
This past Sunday, freezing rain slowed SW MN down to a crawl. Actually…it was way too slippery to even crawl. Sidewalks, roadways, gravel, everything was covered in a very slippery coating of ice and I have a bruise on my leg and an achy arm to show for it. My 8 mile drive from Belmont (my country congregation) to Salem was driven at 25 mph, which at times felt very fast for the conditions. Call me a dare devil if you want, but I had another worship service to lead that morning.
As I inched down the slippery road, in town, going to Salem, I darn near slid right by the parking lot at a whopping 5 mph. After managing to will my 4×4 Jeep to turn left, I slowly got to my garage. I then gingerly crept over to the church with my arms full and hoping I didn’t fall again. Upon entering the secure footing of the inside of the church building, I hurried to get ready. You see…it was also annual meeting Sunday and I began to wonder if we were even going to have it. I found my council president and walked to the sanctuary with him to access the situation. Very quickly we decided to postpone the meeting for 2 weeks. But what about the food those few people brought for the potluck?
We decided that since we were here and that there was food, why not eat it (following worship of course). The hot portion of the potluck consisted of a crock pot of BBQ wienies and some corn hotdish thingy. There were also a few relishes, some homemade bread, a couple salads and a bunch of desserts. Not the healthiest meal in the world but very yummy.
The “legendary” status of this meal came in the fact that we all gathered together, at three tables, and ate. Not one person minded the skimpiness of the selection. There was laughter, conversations, fellowship and safety from the treacherous conditions. And it was very clear to see that great potlucks are not measured by the quantity of food available for plate heaping but rather the quality of the time that is spent together with the Body of Christ.
Don’t get me wrong…I love those potlucks that force me to strategize my eating (so much food; so little plate and stomach room), but Sunday’s potluck will be one I will not soon forget. Quantity or not, we had a great time.
Praise be to God!
The pastor -|—
We tried something new yesterday at Salem. Shocking…Lutherans trying something new. Wow :)
Anyway…what we did for the first time was have coffee fellowship time BEFORE worship. I know that this is not a revolutionary thing as I have experienced this at other churches in the past, but it was new for us. And from what I heard from a number of people this was a big hit.
[By the way...I take no credit for this idea. I wish I could.]
When people arrived they seemed pleasantly surprised by the crowd in our small narthex. When I told them about the coffee time a smile quickly formed on their face :) Many people grabbed a cup of coffee and sat down to visit. Before long there was a holy buzz in the narthex. People were talking and laughing. One of the cool things I noticed was that there were people participating in this holy buzz that normally don’t stay after worship for coffee fellowship time. That put a smile on my face :)
At about 10:10 a.m. (worship begins at 10:15) I began to wonder how I was going to break up this holy buzz. I almost wanted to have worship out there in the narthex (but there were people in the sanctuary waiting to begin). So I walked inside; waited for the organist to stop playing; and I starting talking. People quickly filed in as I shared the morning announcements. It was a smooth transition.
As worship continued I quickly noticed something else (something others shared with me later). There was a different kind of “energy” in the sanctuary. It’s hard to explain but that pre-worship holy buzz drifted into the sanctuary and something happened. One person said, “It felt warm“, and I would agree. Following worship some people continued to hang around in the narthex for another cup of coffee and another quick treat.
More holy buzz.
All in all it was a great morning.
I think it is so easy to take Christian fellowship for granted. Worship, scripture reading and prayer are important and essential but so is taking time to visit and listen to people. I know we can not recreate last Sunday but I think it is safe to say that pre-worship fellowship time is going to continue…and definitely with my blessing.
Coffee and coffee cake with the sewing group is a time I look forward to every month. On the first Monday of each month, the sewing group gets together to make quilts. These quilts end up in the cities and get distributed to people who need them (sometimes these quilts head over seas). It’s a sacred time…one that never gets messed with (unless of course there is an emergency. Even then…it has to be a life or death situation). At 9am Lucille emerges from the Fellowship Hall and calls out from the bottom of the stairs “IT’S READY!” At this my secretary and I make our way downstairs (Lucille’s coffee cake is not to be missed (unless, like I said, there is a life or death emergency). Each month, Lucille says that she tried something new with the recipe (who knew there were so many ways to make coffee cake). And each month her coffee cake is absolutely delicious. Even though I want to have more, I know I need to behave myself. If there is enough left, Lucille will sometimes send a couple pieces home for Connie and I (which rarely makes it back to Connie…sorry honey).
While we have our hot cup of coffee and warm piece of coffee cake, we discuss the “important” matters of the day. “How is so and so doing?” “Did you hear about that <news from the radio> this morning?” Sometimes they look to me for some “inside information” (which I rarely give unless the other party has given me express permission to divulge the information). It’s a sacred and intimate time even though to the untrained ear it looks and sounds like a gossip time, but it is so much more than that. Some months it is just casual conversation. But other times I hear questions that I normally don’t get to hear from people. These question are sometimes hard, but always honest questions about what is going on in the church. I guess they figure they have the pastor’s ear for a moment…and I am always happy to listen.
That is the morning gathering time. At noon they have a little potluck where the husbands show up to eat and, of course, I am there. It is during this time I learn the most about people. It is where I learn who is related to whom (I am always amazed at what I learn here). It’s where I learn about the church’s history. I hear stories of the good ole days. And, of course, there is the typical BS that is often heard when guys get together. This is a sacred and intimate time.
Now…as I sit here typing this, I find myself getting more and more anxious about lunch; when the guys will show up; great food will be served; and stronger connections are made over coffee and hot dish. We won’t solve the world’s problems today. We won’t get into deep political discussions. But one thing is for sure…this sacred and intimate time won’t be wasted.
Got to love sewing day :)