“The shared meal is no small thing"
Eating together is a key component of Pathway. We gather around the Lord’s Table each Sunday and enjoy a feast of God’s grace. The hospitality we receive around the Lord’s Table is offered and continues as we share meals together throughout the week.
In addition to informal gatherings, we will gather for planned gatherings throughout the year. The format is simple, a main dish is prepared, everyone brings a side to pass and we gather around the table to share a meal. There is no agenda or set topic of conversation to be discussed. It is not always quiet, neat or orderly, it can often seem like chaos, and the meal is not a simple prelude to the important spiritual stuff of reading the Bible and prayer. I tend to think the "spiritual stuff” can also be found in enjoying a meal together. Tater-Tot Casserole as spiritual formation?
Maybe there is something to be learned in observing the life of Jesus that often His preaching of the Kingdom is associated with the simple and ordinary things like a shared meal. Christopher Smith and John Pattison have written a wonderful book I highly recommend, Slow Church:Cultivating Community in the Patient way of Jesus. The 11th chapter is titled, “Dinner Table Conversation as a way of being church. It represented much of how Pathway is attempting to live out our Gospel S.T.O.R.I.E.S. The Fourth Sunday of every month we are encouraging each other to "stick-around” for a shared meal. It’s an old fashioned potluck and presents a new/old way of of confronting consuming at church. On Thursday’s we host Strengthening Families which has as a core tenant a shared family meal. We can simply enjoy a meal and converse about life.
Smith and Pattison quote Michael Pollan who states: “The shared meal is no common thing. It is the foundation of family life, the place where our children learn the art of conversation and acquire the habits of civilization: sharing, listening, taking turns, navigating differences, arguing without offending.” (P. 211) I think the same thing be applied to the life of Pathway. Taking the time to bring a dish to pass and spend a couple hours together begin to slow us down to engage God and our neighbor. It is a place where we talk about our differences, share the ups and downs of life, build trust, create space for others, and slowly become shaped into the unique people of God?