This past Sunday I was greeted by one very exited 4 year old named Kyleigh who burst through the doors of St. Aidan’s. She was excited to share some news with me. She was full of the excitement that children teach us we should all be full of…it was awesome …. but more about her excitement later….
I wish we all burst through the doors of church with that excitement. How can we not be excited on Sunday mornings? People of faith who belong to communities must be jacked up about coming together on Sunday. It is that time of the week when we come together, when we see one another, we embrace, when we voice our prayers, offer our praise, seek our refuge, make our offering, and break bread together. It is the time that we come around the table together. I get excited about Sundays. I really do! In fact I also get excited about Wednesdays! We now have a regular worshipping community on Wednesday Mornings. It’s a smaller group and allows for a more intimate expression of worship. After Wednesday church we usually go out for lunch together. Lunch usually allows for extended conversation, debate, dialogue, reflection. It is time well spent together. It is a delightful time together and is open to all who would like to come.
Yesterday after church some of us were discussing the importance of relationship. We were lamenting the loss of time for families around the dinner table in our frenetic society. I shared that I learned what it means to be a George at the dinner table. Daily, we would share time around the table and we would hear each other’s story. There was a main story teller – my Dad. Sometimes we would hear the same stories many times. The beauty was they never really got old. Even though we might have heard the story before, we knew that it was important to hear them again. We all shared the stories of who we were around that table. Our common story was shared.
If you asked most people about the most intimate pieces of furniture in their house, most would answer bed. But I ask, How about the table — .
Henri Nouwen writes:
The table is one of the most intimate places in our lives. It is there that we give ourselves to one another. When we say, “Take some more, let me serve you another plate, let me pour you another glass, don’t be shy, enjoy it,” we say a lot more than our words express. We invite our friends to become part of our lives. We want them to be nurtured by the same food and drink that nurture us. We desire communion. That is why a refusal to eat and drink what a host offers is so offensive. It feels like a rejection of an invitation to intimacy. Strange as it may sound, the table is the place where we want to become food for one another. Every breakfast, lunch, or dinner can become a time of growing communion with one another.
How very true. It is dining together that we come to know one another. How often when we meet people do we say, “Let’s get together for a meal?” and it is in that getting together that we really get to know one another. Church is just as much an important expression of intimacy around the table. As much as I learned about being a member of the George family around our dinner table, when the people of God come around the table on a Sunday, or any other day, we are learning our shared story. Sometimes we hear those bible stories over and over, but really we should never tire of hearing them told again. Being at worship and being at the dinner table at home have suffered the same challenges. Our frenetic lifestyles have spilled over into our faith practices as well. We allow our busyness to excuse us from the Table with our church family and we miss sharing the meal together… ‘I’ll just say a quick prayer at home,’ is akin to, ‘I’ll grab something in the drive-thru – don’t worry about me.’
Henri Nouwen is right on the mark with how important time together breaking bread is. It is being in communion and we really need to break bread together more often. In the same token, we need to come to the Table on Sundays with excitement.
Let me get back to how Kyleigh fits into all of this. I first met little Kyleigh in July when I joined the people of St. Aidan’s in ministry. She was, to say the least, a little shy and uncertain about this brash clergyperson who was anxious to say hello to her. Week by week we have built a rapport. As might be expected, it has taken some time. This past Sunday was special because Kyleigh burst through the door of the church searching me out to tell me “I MADE THE BREAD, I MADE THE BREAD!” [At St. Aidan’s we use real bread and its usually baked the evening before or even morning of church.] She was soooo excited. She told the Church School teachers, her friends and all who would hear her that she made the bread. Kyleigh had a sleep over with Nan and Pop and had helped make the bread for church. As we gathered as church around the Table and the loaf was brought forward my heart swelled as I could hear her voice from just half an hour earlier – ‘I made the bread.’ When the time came for us all to share the bread, I was filled with joy for our church community. We were all dining on bread offered from little hands with and unbelievably giving and exuberant heart. We are ministering together from our youngest to our eldest. From her little hands, we placed that bread into hands that have toiled for Jesus for many years in our community. She is a reflection of the community that we are and she represents the hope of what the Holy Spirit is unfolding at St. Aidan’s. Before she left church Kyleigh gave me the greatest hug! We are no longer strangers but friends — She made the Bread! I saw Jesus in the breaking of the Bread – Thank you Kyleigh.
Thanks Kevin for this amazing reminder of Christ in our midst.
Thanks for your response Anthony!
I love the way you can incorporate the excitement of Kayleigh with the “wisdom” being shared yesterday, Kevin. Thanks. Katherine
Thank you Katherine — both Sunday and Yesterday were great days! I am grateful.
Such a wonderful share. Being a George at the table is so important. We don’t get to do it as often as we would like, but whenever together it is always a part of our togetherness.
We are blessed and dear Kevin, it sounds as if you are as well. Think of you two with smiles. Judy and Rick
Thank you for this post — we think of you guys with smiles too.
I was pleased to come to know the two of your – through the breaking of bread.
A beautiful tale of how a young person can feel part of Church in this way and what sharing a meal can mean. At St. Mark’s by the Lake yesterday evening’ s Lenten Series speaker was George Bozanich (founder of Windsor Youth Centre). We watched a film featuring youth who use WYC tell us “What is a Home”. WYC is home to most of these young people even though it’s hours are 5pm-10pm. George went on to tell us about how everyone, volunteers and youth, sit down each evening an eat together and interact as family. It’s was apparent there is much need for this type of facility and someone suggested a larger building could accommodate more people. George explained more places of similar size would be preferable as a larger space could feel institutionalized whereas there current location has the feeling of ‘home’ when everyone eats together. Breaking bread together is such a blessing
great to hear from you.
Sounds like a wonderful program being offered at the Windsor Youth Centre.
What is a Home? Love that question.
We had some powerful conversation about that over the lunch table on Wednesday as well as I was discussing the old family homestead and how it has changed in my eyes with mom and dad removed from there. What made it a home was the relationships nurtured there, often around the table.
Now what remains is a house.
I wonder if we are all searching for a home?
I wonder how the church might be a home?
Thank you for your post
HI Kevin – I love the story of Kayleigh – she sounds like Rayla! Yes it is so true it is tragic
that today’s frantic pace has robbed us of the daily family dinner get together- making the times when we are able to get together maybe even more valuable and special!
Thanks for your comment.
I think we all have to do better —
and yes when we make an effort the time we do spend seems invaluable.
I think we see how special it is because something deep within us is yearning for those times of intimacy together.
We can even find ways to do this together at places with the initials…
Very true Kevin – Spring is coming which will make driving to places like London easier!
I see BP in our future!
Kevin: A fine blog….. It’s a reminder of ‘yesteryear’ when visitors joining at dinner was more spontaneous and one didn’t have to have a five course banquet on the menu in order to qualify as a host. My mom learned to live with my father’s last -minute invitations and surprise guests. Extra company and conversation was the reward. Also, an excellent reminder for those who hold that they do not need a church community in which to pray.
Thanks for your comment.
I too remember those last minute companions at the table.
it seems to make the meal all the better.
Somehow, there was always enough food.
Mom would make dinner for perhaps six of us and if 6 more turned up — there was always enough. It was very loaves and fishes like.
I have also been blessed to be around your table enjoying food, drink, and good dialogue. Yours is a table where kindness and companionship is served as a main course. Thank you for those times.
What a wonderful message. I seldom respond, Kevin, but I read and am inspired by every word you write.
Thank you Alyce,
How very nice to read your response.
I am glad you enjoyed this post.
I very much enjoyed writing it.
May God be with you!