One of the distinctive aspects of our church is that we’re a geographically spread out congregation. We mostly don’t live in the same residential communities or around the corner from other Old Firsters. So we don’t often bump into each other outside of church. Much of that is simply a function of our being a downtown congregation. But it affects our fellowship — makes it more important that we are intentional about creating community within our congregation.
To that end, I’d like to propose a new Old First tradition: the Big Table, the idea being that when someone in our community has something going on — like a convalescence or a new baby or a loved one in the hospital — we’ll share the news with an invitation that people might help out by preparing some food to lighten the load.
Actually, it’s not a new tradition at all. Right now people have been preparing food for Elizabeth and Griffin on the arrival of their first child, Naaman, and for Jim and Margaret S. after Jim’s hip replacement surgery. And we’ve done it before for Kristen and for Sterling.
But our efforts have always been a bit ad hoc… and truthfully not as uniform as we should be.
So I want to propose we make this an official Old First tradition. (I get a kick when people tell me that someone will be leaving, so we need to enact the Old First tradition where we call them forward at the Benediction and send them forth with our blessing on the last Sunday with us. That’s just something I started doing, and saying it was an Old First tradition, and voila’, now it is!) When someone has a pastoral situation that can be shared and where the provision of food might help, we’ll include that info. in the weekly E-pistle, with the title Big Table for… and then the person’s first name and a brief description of the reason and any dietary restrictions.
And with that notice, you may prepare something special or just make a little extra when you are cooking for yourself. Food that can be frozen and eaten at the recipients’ convenience works best. Smaller serving also tend to work best.
Simply prepare and freeze the meal, an… You could contact the person yourself and offer to drop it by (visits are often welcome too, but sometimes the person has to much going on to also be made a host by visitors!). Or you can leave it in the church’s freezer — marked with what it is, for whom and from whom. And then let the church office know there’s food in the freezer to be gotten out to someone.
No one should feel they are being asked to cook everytime. Actually, in this case, a bit of food can go a long way. But it’s a way that we can support one another and strengthen our community.
If we can make this work, and make it our tradition, we’ll be more supportive of one another, and we’ll have another experience of community too.
Let me know if you have any questions or suggestions or ideas for how to make this an important, working tradition for our church..