What is DINNER CHURCH?
The simple explanation is that it’s church, but over dinner. As with many simple ideas, it also holds a broader significance. What seems like a radical departure from tradition is actually a return to our Christian roots...
From God’s provision of food to fleeing refugees of Exodus, to the celebratory feast of its remembrance, our food and our tables are marked as sacred. The earliest church knew it too. “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.” (Acts 2:42) The sharing of a sacred meal is the heritage of the church, not as an institution but as friends and followers of Jesus. Jesus invited friends, strangers, and outcasts to sit around the same table and break bread together. That kind of experience changes us by bringing us to recognize the face of God in the face of the person passing the potatoes. In two weeks, on Maundy Thursday, the church will recall the story of Jesus’ last Passover meal. We remind each other of the promise that in the breaking of bread and the sharing of the cup, God is re-membered, re-animated, re-creating. God is brought together in life again. This is true not only in history but in every single time we gather.
When food is more than food.
God is abundant in love and the source of all goodness. We experience the truth of that promise when we physically experience the abundance of a good meal. Rich, sumptuous, and satisfying fare points us back to the character of God. One traditional invitation to Holy Communion comes from the pastor proclaiming, “taste and see the goodness of God.” How much more does that take on when the bread is still warm from the oven and what you see are the eyes of a fellow child of God? The table is a common language we can all relate to and everyone we can all contribute to. We practice at the table, in this set apart space, the kind of rhythm and relationship that echo into our more hectic daily lives. It gives us a glimpse of what is possible beyond the filtered light of stained glass windows, but also in our streets, our offices break rooms, our City Halls, and our homes.
But really, what does that look like?
We gather with heartfelt prayers, smoky incense, a centering song, and the lighting of candles. We sit down to eat family style with all generations and walks of life sharing the same sacred bread, a hearty meal, and meaningful conversation. We’ve got high chairs, couches, pews, “regular” chairs… whatever floats your boat. We tell the old, old story and engage its significance for our lives. Youth and adults have space to engage and young children have their own space to engage. We create intentional space for each, but are still within the same sacred sanctuary. We are moved into further prayer and song, the sharing of gifts, and finish with a cup of blessing. You don’t have to know all the words, we teach them every week as we learn together. Everyone’s invited reset the table for the next person – to continue the connection through clearing carafes or doing the dishes. If you have to rush home one week to make sure homework is ready for the next day or the dogs get let out…we get it. The work you do at home is holy too. Here’s the deal…we share our lives in their wholeness, their brokenness, and their hopefulness. We create the community together.