As United Methodists, we seem to believe that we can't have a meeting or any other kind of gathering without serving food. And I've several wonderful church cookbooks that I've collected. But nothing says more about a church than church dinners. In fact for many churches, the way they share food says a lot about the way their share their faith.
I love church dinners and my philosophy has always been to try different dishes. This is quite unlike my grandmother, who only ate the food from the people she knew had clean kitchens. Still different churches do church suppers differently. In one church, the women brought out their best china and silver. Having dinner at that church meant something special and they always brought their best--and plenty of it. Needless to say that church offered warm, generous hospitality. Dinners at another church were less formal, but again, the food was plentiful. At still another church, the members brought leftovers and hardly any of those. This church looked wealthy on paper, but they were poor in hospitality. At our current church, the men do much of the cooking, especially when we have church barbecues. But it's not uncommon for our men's group to host the District Christmas Party or other special occasions. And in our church we have a large number of leaders, both men and women who graciously step forward.
What do your church dinners say about your church? Are they warm and welcoming? Do they bespeak of generosity and hospitality? Who comes? Do you invite guests? Do you invite the homeless? What do you do with the leftovers? Donate? Throw them away? Do you take some meals to the shut-ins as a gift of love and service to let them know that they're still appreciated?
Jesus did much of his ministry over the meal table. In fact, one of our most important sacraments is a celebration of one meal Jesus had with his disciples--his last supper. I pray our church dinners demonstrate our faithfulness to Jesus' message.