Eating My Way through the Church
We just completed the longest period of meals out (when not traveling) that I can recall. It began last Sunday with a meal out with one of Martha's former students in a little Greek Restaurant in San Francisco. We began at about 8pm and got kicked out at 10:30. It was a reunion meal for Martha and her student. It was so much fun to see the love and respect, yet independence and creativity. The two women exchanged ideas and thoughts while I watched. Monday night was discovery meal with a person interested in joining the staff of the church. It was like a first dance (wish I knew how to dance) where you delicately explore areas of interest, often heading off on tangents and detours. I was both work and energizing. Could this person fit on the staff? Would we work well together, share the same vision, build the church? Then Tuesday night we had an Egyptian dinner with a church family and their visiting relatives from Cairo Egypt. The man is a pastor with a DMin from Fuller Theological Seminary. Throughout the evening he shared about the deep health of the Christian Church in Egypt, not a topic I've heard addressed before. It was one of those beneath-the-radar evenings of wonder and awe at believers who live at great personal risk and cost. On Wednesday night Martha and I were welcomed as new members into an area country club. This club provides a complimentary membership to the 4 area clergy. I don't gold nor have I done clubs. So we went to the cocktail hour/reception with a high degree of apprehension (OK call it "fear"). We did not know if we would be dressed right or act appropriately. What we discovered as an overwhelmingly warm welcome. We were handed off from one member to another, intoduced and asked questions about our family and our adjustment to a new part of the country. I felt more lovingly welcomed there than I have in a number of churches I've visited over the years (one a highly advertised emergent church that looked at me like an out-of-place geezer). Their welcome of us made us want to return (not to golf but have lunch). Thursday night was the Young Life annual Fund Raiser where I was asked to give the benediction. We sat at the head table with the key-note speaker whom I've never met. When we began to talk, he had all sorts of Covenant connections (staff member to Dick Lucco) and I felt like I found a new friend. Their presentation was a powerful story of Young Life workers faithfully showing up in the lives of youth who did not connect with local churches. When it came time for the benediction, all I could say was that I was honored to be the pastor they chose from among all the churches to offer prayer. But before I did, I said all the churches in Santa Barbara thank you for being the arms and hands of Jesus. What a privilege. Friday night was the 50th anniversary of the Samarkand Covenant Retirement home, and we were invited as part of the management committee. Bob Stromberg was the entertainment. We sat with Rick and Barbara Fisk and talked about exciting directions in Covenant Retirement care and World Missions. We were greeted warmly by a whole bunch of our members who reside there and are always happy when their pastor and wife stop by. We laughed as Bob Stromberg mimed and told stories about life at home. Saturday night I ate alone at home while Martha went out with a friend. And Sunday night we were invited to a French woman's home overlooking the ocean. She is an artist/mangager. It was an evening of rich conversation about France, art, food, family, culture and faith. Both our host and her friend are not active church-goers and werre intrigued to ask questions of me. We made two new friends as the sun set and we saw the lights glowing from the oil rigs out in the channel.
No wonder Jesus put such stress on the table and meals and just hanging out and eating together. Life is good!