Come for the food. Stay for the people. Go with a blessing.
a guest blog by Jesse Letourneau
I first arrived at Kindred in the summer of 2016. I was promised there would be food. I was told I would be fed. Instead, Pastor Ashley explained that this evening we would be doing something called worskship. For the next hour or so I helped sort clothing donations for Grace Place. The evening ended with Communion. “All are welcome. Sinner and Saint, Child and Skeptic” These words intrigued me.
I returned to Kindred a few weeks later. I attended service on a semi-regular basis. That summer Kindred alternated between workship (mostly sorting donations for various groups) and meals. Pastor Ashley often spoke of building Kindred together; stating that Kindred is made up of all who are present.” I have been a part of Church life since I was born. From nursery to high school group, young adult to not so young adult, my life has centered on the gathering of God’s people. What Kindred offers, what Kindred is, is unique to each of these experiences.
Summer turned to Fall and weekly meals resumed as the steady rhythm of Kindred. Soon I found myself attending weekly, as gathering around the Table became a steady rhythm of my own. I had become a part of building Kindred each week. Fall became Advent and I was asked to lead Kindred in the sacred story of the Magi, the Shepherds and all the rest. The story of Advent is the story of Emmanuel. Kindred had become for me a place where Emmanuel was experienced each week.
I often feel out of place when I enter a new space. However, Kindred is more than simply a place where leadership gives lip service to the idea of building community while the reality is that nothing new has been developed or created. Kindred became for me a place that is “made up of all who are present.” It is place where God is felt not merely in songs and sermons but in the presence of each member gathered around the table that evening. I have experienced God at Kindred. I have experienced God in Kindred. I have experienced God in the smiles of those who greet me each week, in hugs and in prayers, and in good food shared with good people.
The Advent season soon became the Christmas season. And now we enter into the Great Green Growing Season of the Church calendar. In this time of transition, I find myself in transition as well. My time with Kindred has come to a close. God has called me to serve a church in California. A new personal weekly rhythm will emerge. A rhythm I have no doubt where I will still find Emmanuel. But it will no longer be in the physical company of Kindred.
I first arrived at Kindred expecting to be fed. Seeking out physical food.
Kindred has been a place where I have been fed and have been fed well. However, I was fed not only with the meals that were served, but with the presence of God experienced through all who were present.