Thursday, December 06, 2007

The Church of Your Dreams. III

My father tells the stories of Sunday dinners when he was a child. The large family house on Oakwood Ave. was full of friends and family. In the forties, the table always had a few servicemen from Camp Butner and during WWII there were always a few boys on weekend pass in the house.
No Sunday dinner would be complete without lots of southern cooking and GrandMa Chalmers was a true southern lady and excellent cook. My father says that there were no less than four meats and at least 6 vegetables and other sides. The pie safe was always full of fresh baked pies and cakes, not only on Sundays, but daily. Abundance was the theme and there was always room for one more to join and dine.

I have heard this same story from many folks of an older generation. I also remember Sunday dinners and afternoons filled with neighbors and ice cream freezers and ball games. We have lost so much even in a time when technology has made our lives "better".

The church of my dreams would make the sacred meal one of the main themes of the community. A large dining hall would be more important than a "beautiful" sanctuary. Of course, a large hall would need a large table, one that could seat large numbers of people. Several times a week the community would join around the table to share a meal and our lives together. Always on Sundays! There would always be enough for all to eat. No conversation would be taboo when we dined together. We would share the food, joy, pain, life together around the table.

We would always set an empty chair and plate at the table. This visual metaphor would remind us that there is always room for one more soul at our table, always room for one more soul in God's family. We would remember the cross, the empty tomb, the risen Lord. These would be the simple sacraments of our sacred meals.

The table would be BIG. Made by hand of native timber and crafted by someone in the community. The story of it's making would be part of the church's story and history. I would dream of all the chairs being different, just like all the folks who gather round, but all united by faith and love and community.

This table and hall would also be available for all to use. Family reunions, wedding receptions, birthdays, wakes and special events would be celebrated around the BIG dining table. Members of the faith community would support these events with the culinary skills learned together. The kitchen of our dreams would be used to benefit any and all who needed it for such joyous occasions.

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