We all have been invited to potlucks organized by local churches where food and much laughter can be punctuated with some awkward moments. Going to a potluck gathering can be challenging simply because you just never know what you are going to bite into. Everything looks different than what we are used to. For instance: what we are accustomed to when we think of an apple pie can look completely different from what someone else brought. It might have the same ingredients but it sure does not have the familiar look that we are so at ease with. It takes risk to dig into something so strange looking, making us feel like we are now venturing into an uncharted culinary territory, just as when Indiana Jones was staring down into the pit of snakes. But we have heard that building relationship takes risk, and so it is with potlucks.
This past Sunday we gathered in the afternoon to spend time together apart from our regular morning service, and as in the past we had a theme. It was all about pies. We called it “PieExtravaganza”. What was different from the past three gatherings we have done is that this time people had to bring their own dish as the main piece. On top of that, there was contest for the best pie.
Some of the folks in our church spent quite a bit of time putting together pretty remarkable pies. Some went to the extreme of making their own ice cream for a chocolate mint ice cake. Others expressed themselves with intricate designs on their pies, while others baked their famous sweet potato pie from a family tradition passed down from many generations back. Families with their busy schedule set time aside to bake, or drove back from their own family gathering early enough to make a pie for our event. Thoughts, planning, investment, and care took place that day. Each pie was not only beautiful to look at but they were all very exquisite to taste.
Despite what one may think, bringing our dish to a food gathering truly reveals how we feel inside about the people we are spending time with more than any other thing.
We may have disagreements with some people in the church. We could even be dealing with some hurt and uneasiness about some relationship. The fact that we spent a few hours cooking or baking, showcasing our skills to bring to such events speaks volume. It shows that deep down in our hearts we care about the community the Lord has placed us in. After all, our intention was not only to please the palates of others, but also to offer parts of who we are so that others can have a glimpse of our hearts.
I believe to comprehend the strength of unity in a community; it is necessary to look at the sum of all the relationships corporately, rather than one or two individuals. In the same community, we may have affinities with some, and be completely turned off by the attitudes of others. For the sake of the whole we are willing to work passed our potential hurts. Just as it is when cooking, some ingredients may have been dangerous or bitter by themselves, but put together, they become a work of art.
Yes potlucks are tricky because we just don’t know what we are putting in our mouths. And yes it takes courage to try something that looks odd.
Relationships can be risky, even in the midst of a safe church environment. If we dig in, we might be surprised to found out the truth inside is much better than it sometimes looked.
I am reminded of the time it takes to share a meal from my European upbringing. Each meal you share is apart of your heart you offer, and this past Sunday was no different. I am honored to be in the company of such a group of people dedicated to making relationships work.
Acts 2:42, 2:46-47. They committed themselves to the teaching of the apostles, the life together, the common meal, and the prayers.
They followed a daily discipline of worship in the Temple followed by meals at home, every meal a celebration, exuberant and joyful, as they praised God. People in general liked what they saw. Every day their number grew as God added those who were saved