.At the beginning of this new year I asked the potluckers to choose a guiding word for this year and send it to be over Facebook. Over the course of the week, folks started chiming in with their words. They selected words like “peace,” “forbearance,” “abandon,” “focus,” “appreciation,” “hope,” “water,” and “discipline.” Looking over the list, I immediately started to think of scriptures, and poems, and authors who had spoken about these very words. David Foster Wallace’s This is Watercame to mind. So did David Steindl-Rast’s work on appreciation and gratitude. And Jan Richardson’s poem on hope. It was like our worship conversation pieces were assembling themselves. What if we took one word each week and made it the theme of our conversation and all of the elements of our worship (i.e. our prayers, communion meditation, and benediction)? So, that’s what we did.
It’s been amazing to find the connections among these words. For instance, how can we have peace without hope or forbearance? How can we have appreciation or live with abandon without a mindful focus? What role does appreciation and hope play in forbearing others?
The pastor in me has enjoyed feeling that our worship might be meeting specific needs around the table, if only those of one potlucker each week. The public confession of our obstacles, and learned wisdom in these areas is helping us to support one another in a deeper, more authentic way.
Maybe the people around your table have words that they need to explore with others. Maybe your community is the only invitation that they will have to share these words that they are carrying.
In the first years that I served a church, my husband and I invited minister colleagues who were young adults to come to our home to celebrate Epiphany on January 6. Initially for us clergy it was a celebration of the relief that the busyness of Advent and Christmas was coming to an end. But over the years as we learned more about the celebration of Epiphany, I grew to find it deeply meaningful.
Each year at our Potluck Church worship closest to Epiphany the wise men adorn the table and the new Christ candle that previously adorned the advent wreath is lit alone. After we’ve finished our plates of food, we serve a decorated cake that has a miniature plastic baby Jesus buried inside, and as we cut it, we laugh about what it might mean if we get the piece with Jesus--good luck or prosperity? Cake-maker for next year? Candlemas party planner? King or queen for the night? Or maybe you just need more Jesus in your life? It’s a fun tradition made all the more special as we eat together in worship.
This year none of us found the plastic Jesus, and so we delivered the treasured piece to a Potluck Church friend who was sick. Hopefully, she felt a bit closer to Jesus and to us as she enjoyed it.
written by Rachel
Set a table, invite Christ and others, leave an empty chair, serve up some powerful questions, and break bread.