The Feast Table of God: Coffee Hour Culture at First Church

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

by Molly Baskette

I wrote the following piece about coffee hour culture-shifting before our church fire. We need the shifting now more than ever. We need it because grief needs to eat, and so does courage. We need it because it’s an important way we will retain our unity and identity in ‘exile,’ and because it’s the single easiest way to help newcomers become insiders in our community. Read on!
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What if we had a sure-fire, low-tech, super-straightforward strategy for meeting people’s physical and spiritual needs, and ensuring that newbies and others stay at church a little longer on Sunday mornings to build meaningful relationships with God and each other, and eventually become stakeholders and leaders in our community?

There is, you say, Molly? And it’s EASY, you say?

If you read Real Good Church, you know that I affectionately refer to coffee hour as the Second Hour of Worship. It’s where people who don’t have enough friends at church yet can find them. It’s where we first meet the body’s needs (remember Maslow’s hierarchy!) so that next we can meet the spirit’s.

But in order for fellowship time to be as hospitable and excellent as our worship, we need to set a table that feels like a feast.

We hope to continue to anchor Coffee Hour with a variety of store-bought healthy foods supplied by the Facilities staff while we are worshipping elsewhere, and certainly after our return to our own sanctuary (thank you, awesome Facilities staff!).

But as our church grows, our caloric needs will outpace what Facilities can reasonably supply. That’s where you come in, Church!

Care, Fellowship & Invitation, in consultation with the pastors, is asking you, Beloved, to meet each other’s needs and your own by participating in providing nourishment for each other. We’re asking for participation at one of two levels:

1. FIVE (5) AMAZING singles or families will become Souper Sunday Soup Suppliers. These awesome people, who have the spiritual gift of feeding others and the math skills to scale up recipes by a factor of 10, will each take one Sunday a month (1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, or 5th) to make a BIG pot of something inexpensive but wholesome for the entire congregation to have a cup of. Maybe it’s a vat of vegan carrot ginger soup, a mess of lentils, a metric ton of rice and beans, or a sheet tray of savory bread pudding.

For those on a limited income, we have a budget to pay you back for your ingredients. And even though you need no reward for your labors (well…) we will make sure you hear our oohs and aahs and mmms, and will note who has cooked for us that Sunday with a laminated sign next to your offering.

Best part is: we already have two and a half Sundays covered! Thank you Richard Brabham and Bee and Jim Marrone for being such mighty servants for others! And one of our fifth Sunday Soup Supplier alternates is: Molly Baskette! Potato leek soup, anybody?

2. EVERYBODY ELSE whoever stays for coffee hour (or even just comes to church — consider this your entree, pun intended, into deeper community), we are heartily inviting/urging you to periodically bring something that will make our table a feast fit for Jesus, who dines with us every time we gather.

To spread out the bounty, we are asking you to bring one or two offerings during your birthday month, for each person in your family who comes to church (1 person=2 offerings/year in your birthday month, 2 people=4 offerings/year during each of your birthday months, etc). Let’s celebrate the fact that God made beautiful you by feasting together! And that we don’t have another signup sheet to manage!

Just put your offering right on the table before church, pick up your empty plate when you are ready to leave, and if you are able, bring an ingredient list for homemade items. We will also need a regular rotation of people to stay for cleanup at the end of our fellowship time (neatniks, servant-spirited folk and people who are the last to leave every party: I’m looking at you).

It doesn’t matter what you bring for the feast table — a couple dozen hard boiled eggs, a bowl of fresh fruit, some cut up carrots and hummus, homemade lemon squares, on-sale Oreos plucked from Safeway on the way to church — whatever it is you best like to cook and eat, or can easily afford or purchase.

The important thing is that you take your place at the table as both guest and host by turns (as my friend Michael Piazza says: we know we are maturing as Christians when we take off the bib and put on an apron).

To become a Souper Sunday Soup Chef, email Molly at reverendmolly@gmail.com.

And there’s no one at all to email about taking your place as the host at the table: October birthday babies, let’s go!