By Pastor Devin Strong, Spirit of Peace Lutheran Church.
Something churches are always good at is providing food. In the Lutheran church, we say, “Wherever two or three are gathered, bring a dish to pass!” I suspect that’s true in most denominations, because fellowship and sharing meals together is innately important to us all.
As COVID-19 wears on, we’ve struggled with how to gather safely. People are weary and – while we still need to be cautious – yearning to be together.
Sharing a meal has always been a powerful experience; however, it should be noted that gathering for a potluck supper is not unique to humans. Lions, wolves and chimpanzees in the wild also dine communally.
There’s something built into our mortal DNA that urges us to come together to eat.
Psychological studies have shown that, after just one shared meal, levels of the hormone oxytocin (known as the “love hormone” that creates trust and bonding) increase.
There’s actually a small movement within Christianity, known as “dinner churches,” where folks gather for worship around a meal at a member’s home or, if the group is larger, at a public space. Probably the roots of dinner churches can be found in the Last Supper, when Jesus and His disciples shared one last meal. We’re hard-wired not just to eat, but to eat together.
This month, Spirit of Peace relaunched a favorite Wednesday evening program called Faith Builders, to which everyone in the community is invited! We gather together at 6 p.m. for a no-cost meal (donations are gratefully accepted), prepared by folks from the church. We sit together in small groups to minimize risks and encourage fellowship. During dinner, each table is given an all-ages-appropriate “table talk question” to discuss that relates to one of the upcoming Sunday morning readings.
Dinner lasts for about 30 minutes, after which I share a short, intergenerational, family-friendly teaching that’s also based on a Sunday morning reading.
We end at 7:15 p.m., after a theme-driven game, put together by church lay members, that everyone can play. We keep the evening tight and short so everyone – especially folks with small children — can get home and to bed at a reasonable hour.
Wednesday nights are a great, non-imposing way to visit Spirit of Peace for the first time and just enjoy being with other people – without having to prepare dinner for a night! After experiencing so much loneliness and isolation this last year, it’s especially important that we begin carefully gathering at table to eat and share in fellowship together again. In fact, I think we might be hungrier for community now more than ever! Maybe we can revive the comfort of an old-time “Sunday night dinner” while breaking bread with one another on Wednesday nights.
We’d love to have you join us! We’re a small group and try to maintain social distancing when we gather.
Most of our congregants are fully vaccinated and those who aren’t wear masks.
RSVPing is helpful, and you can do that by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or by giving us a call at: 912-727-5608. If you forget to sign up or decide to join us last minute, that’s OK too — there’s always room for one more!