Archive for September 2015

The Gospel and Waffles

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    sorry for the delay in posting... our church has exploded! Which is amazing and wonderful, but also means a ton more work. We are still learning balance, and continually having to reevaluate how we do things... we also might need to purchase new chairs. I've been working on this piece for a while. I hope you enjoy it! -Pastor Robbie

    Every Sunday morning we serve breakfast at church. I don't mean donuts and coffee, though sometimes we have those too, we have full breakfast. Waffles, sausage, breakfast casserole, french toast, pancakes, bacon, eggs, quiche, biscuits and gravy. Every week it varies, but each week we have breakfast.
     It started a bit from necessity. When we started meeting with our launch team on a regular basis, it was easier for everyone to come for meetings when there was food.
     When we transitioned to meeting for corporate worship, we decided to keep breakfast. The reason for having breakfast each week is less about practical necessity, and more about the gospel.
     I know that seems weird, what does the gospel have to do with waffles?
       Food is a universal language. We all have to eat. Most of us enjoy eating. It's an integral part of culture and identity. We eat to celebrate. We eat when we mourn. We bring others food to say "welcome" "thanks" "Congratulations" or "I'm sorry".
     Food is powerful.
     One of the powerful aspects of food is that it unites people. Something happens around a table. The playing field is leveled somehow, and we are all there as equals. We're experiencing something together. We're building relationships together, around food. I sometimes say "when our mouths are full, we are a little bit more open to listening."
      I think there is a reason Jesus met at tables so often, because something happens around food. Barriers and guards are brought down, and people open up.
     Hospitality, in all its forms, is a powerful act (something at the heart of the middle eastern culture Jesus was a part of). It is a radical act, of welcoming, of loving, of doing something life giving and necessary together, and enjoying it.
      We know we will never be the church (well at least for now) with the greatest music, the best facilities (there's a lot of work to do), or probably even the best preacher (though I can try), but what we excel at is hospitality. The art of making people feel welcome. Of not feeling like guests, but feeling like family. Like they are a part of something, and their voice and presence is beyond welcome here. One way we extend that hospitality is through breakfast.
      Food is powerful. Food is so powerful in fact, it's a part of the liturgy of the church. The wine (or in our case the juice) and the bread. The tasting of something tangible to give us a bit of the grace of God.This reminder that we hold within us the body of Christ, and then go out to extend that grace to the world as we live out what it means to be the body of Christ.
     I'm reminded of that grace every time we gather to eat breakfast. Eating food together is not a sacrament, but there is something wholly sacramental about it. It breaks down walls. When our mouths are busy, we listen a little bit more, we laugh a little bit more fully, and life feels a bit richer.
     So, we eat together every week. Old and young. Rich and poor. Black and white.
      And when we eat together, something happens. Stories are shared. Lives are united. Our differences seem to fade away in light of a common purpose, and then as we transition into the worship service with our stomachs filled, we enter understanding those around us a little bit more.
      A couple Sundays ago, I watched as the young teens in our church (which is currently the dominant demographic) gather at the breakfast table, eating, laughing, and then they pulled out a card game. They lingered there, laughing, including the others, and there was something so beautiful about that. The kingdom of God being born through the common bond of waffles and a card game. They may not have anything else in common, but for a few moments they were united, walls broke down, and bonds were formed.
     Now we are wrestling with the growing pains of what our breakfasts will look like in the future. We've had to put out cold cereal last minute to make up for food shortages, but no one wants to let go of this time. This good news in syrup and gravy. The good news that we are a big family, and all are welcome to participate. That we are all welcome to eat in celebration, and we are welcome to eat in our grief... but we are all welcome here. We are welcome at this common table.
     And that truly is the gospel, isn't it? The good news? That we are all welcome, that we all benefit, that we all can find a healing balm for our wounded hearts, or a celebratory pastry? That there is no Jew or Greek, male or female, but that when we come to Christ we are all the Children of God and those other things don't matter so much.
     So, each Sunday I look forward to young faces light up, and adults laugh and catch up around tables, because what I see is a beautiful representation of the kingdom of God in the midst of eating waffles.