Dinner Church ~ What’s That?!?! (December 2014; Volume 3, Issue 12)
Eating together is one of the best ways to build relationship and establish community.
We read all through the Gospels about Jesus making statements about God’s kingdom, inclusion, and relationship simply by eating in seemingly odd places. Towards the end of his life – at the last supper – he established a special meal, one where he is both host and meal, and instructs his followers to do this often in remembrance of him.
The early church did just this, as they gathered regularly to “[devote] themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and prayers” (Acts 2:42, NRSV). In many of the mentions of them “breaking bread” together it is unclear whether they were sharing a meal or celebrating the Eucharist, and I wonder if that is because they were doing both and that the two were not mutually exclusive as we tend to make them today.
Instead of having communion separate from potluck dinners, the early church combined the two and used the common meal also as a ministry to the hungry. In his first letter to the Corinthians, Paul scolds the community for gathering but not sharing food, which results in that “one goes hungry and another becomes drunk” (1 Corinthians 11:21, NRSV).
Because of this ancient model, and the lack of big kitchens and entertaining space in NYC, a new ELCA congregation called “St. Lydia’s” (www.stlydias.org) gathers each week in Brooklyn for a service and meal. It is not a service followed by a meal, but a service and meal intertwined. Some come for the Eucharist, others for table fellowship, and others for a much needed meal. No matter their reasons, they come together to sing, pray, listen, discuss, learn, eat their fill, and be nourished for another week in this crazy world we live.
Following these models – both ancient and modern – we will be gathering weekly throughout the seasons of Advent to do the same – eat dinner, laugh, talk, sing, and celebrate the Eucharist. I know that December can be a stressful over-scheduled time of year, so I encourage you all the more to set aside an hour a week to sit and relax with family and friends and be nourished.
Join us on Wednesdays in Advent (Dec 3, 10, & 17) at 5:30pm for a stress-free meal, good conversation, and simple worship. Please sign-up in the Narthex ahead of time if you can so plans can be made, but also feel free just to show up if plans change last minute!