It seems obvious to us, now, after centuries of practice, that it is in a shared meal that communion is found. We understand that there is something in the Lord’s Supper that binds everyone wherever and whenever it is offered. Knowing that the last thing Jesus did on the night he was betrayed was break bread with his disciples makes sitting down to table essential to our communities. Many resurrection accounts, like the one in this passage from Luke, tell how Jesus ate with them. In these days food has become a kind of litmus test. The kinds of food we eat, how it is prepared and grown and shipped has taken on larger concerns around the environment and how we treat this earth. Putting these two things together, food and worship, is creating a kind of table theology in many of our churches. A theology born of love of food, love of the earth and love of neighbor–all bound in the communal and welcoming settings of our local churches.
On the first Tuesday of every month at Newman Congregational United Church of Christ in Rumford, Rhode Island, people gather in the church kitchen to prepare a meal. They bring the ingredients, trying to source them locally and mindfully. Together, everyone–children too, and those who know their way around a kitchen and those who don’t–chip in to help prepare the meal. The tables are set. As they sit around them to eat, they talk about a passage from scripture and share communion. The ministry is called “Nourish.”
There is a dinner church for young adults that meets the fourth Sunday of every month at the First Congregational Church UCC in Santa Rosa, California. Like other dinner churches, they offer fellowship and deep sharing around a meal, and children are always welcome! In Northampton, Massachusetts, at First Church, their Dinner church meets twice a month. They grow a lot of what they serve at three plots they maintain in a local community garden. Their gathering is called “Common Ground.” This is from their website:
Our vision is to feed those who are hungry in body, mind, and soul: hungry for bread, hungry for meaning, hungry for beauty, truth, purpose, and community. Through the ministry of Common Ground we are striving to help people connect to the earth, one another, and the God whose good gifts we freely share.
What kind of dinner church could your congregation serve to a hungry world?