A Feast for Souls on Occasions of Community Celebration in Spirit

Dear friends, it was wonderful to be part of celebrating a Thanksgiving meal in our family of faith as many in our congregation sat at tables together this past Sunday at First Presbyterian Church, New Castle, Indiana. We have such beloved folks with big hearts for serving one another in the Lord that I have to say, I am filled to overflowing…. My tendered heart is full from such magnanimous generosity poured out among and upon us that I feel remiss in not having more said about it.


Some may be familiar with The 5 Love Languages from the New York Times bestselling book by Dr. Gary Chapman that speaks to how we may have love shown, one to another. Among five key categories found from his research, Dr. Chapman espouses the following to be universal and comprehensive. We all may primarily identify with one of these: Words of Affirmation, Quality Time, Receiving Gifts, Acts of Service, and Physical Touch.


I have found that for me personally, at times, I seem to have differing love languages for showing as compared to receiving love. For example, I may tend to give gifts as a way of showing love to a loved one, but not necessarily experience it as much in receiving gifts for myself. What speaks love to one, may not be primarily taken as love by another. My late beloved wife, Melissa’s primary love language was, without a doubt, Acts of Service. And if I didn’t know any better, I would suggest another sub-category for our congregation to have as a primary love language to be that of Serving Meals.


Our recent efforts over the past year of providing meals as gifts to serve and enjoy being together with people in our larger community is telling and worth sharing. While ministers may converse regarding what they sometimes refer to as the discerning and development of one’s pastoral identity, I might identify and relate this conversation piece as speaking to a particular church group’s congregational identity. In this vein, I would name Serving Meals as evidenced fruit borne of an apparent, distinctive attribute of our identity in the body of Christ in Henry County. This, I believe, is part of our love language with, in, to, for and through community. It is certainly worthy of further exploration and possibly increased validation with words of affirmation as well as in quality time spent together in dialogue and conversation over meals served unto one another in love.


In such settings over meals together at table with others, with respect to and of one another’s stories… There is power in the telling. There is comfort in the sharing. There is relief in the giving. There is healing in the receiving. These are among what I consider to be fundamental outflows of God’s love made manifest in, through and among us in this fellowship of faith. Even as it’s said that the family that prays together stays together, we could say the same of the church that serves and fellowships over meals together staying together.


Here I am reminded of a verse from the Psalms (68:6a) in which the Psalmist proclaims, “God sets the lonely in families…”


One tradition that Melissa encouraged us to adopt early on in our family life, which I must confess has not been observed as much in some recent times, was to seek intentionally to invite someone outside of our family into our home for a holiday meal. As I recall, we started this practice some time prior to one New Year’s Eve early on in our marriage. We would pray to God for the Holy Spirit to lay upon our heart and place in our mind a person or persons whom the Lord would be pleased to have us celebrate and share a meal together with that might not necessarily, ordinarily have other plans at the time. We would always find our Lord faithful to answer that prayer with such affirmation and confirmation in the process that it became a hope-filled, mutually fulfilling endeavor for all present in the set apart occasion.


As we reflected upon the ministry, proclamation and celebration of Word and Sacrament with Holy Communion on Sunday prior, I am encouraged to exhort us, beloved, to renew our devotion in the Lord together concerning these things as we contemplate further the Lord’s leading into the near and better future God has in mind for us. Might the Lord our God have you and me, our families in this season together celebrate along with others over a shared meal in our homes sometime during the holidays? Someone, or some ones, possibly outside our conventional circle of friends, whom the Lord may be pleased for us to share in the blessing of God’s grace….


May the Lord add to our number those who are being drawn by His Spirit to fellowship with us and help us rediscover and grow in the knowledge of who we are and Whose we are, becoming ever more so


In Christ,

Pastor Rex

~ by prayersForMelissa on November 17, 2010.

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