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.