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The spot for the good news, the good word, the quick reports of the many, many wonderful news items I hear all the time and want to share with the rest of you. Expect to find the good news when you come to check out "what’s the good word?"

Thursday, December 30, 2010


A new book has just come out and the author is making the rounds of the radio interview shows called The Family Dinner: Great Ways To Connect With Your Kids, One Meal At A Time

The premise is pretty simple, maybe not easy, that families pass on their values and connect with each other around the dinner table. Not just once in awhile, but every day. I got to thinking about this notion. I remembered my childhood dinner table where I sat at the end, with my back to the north. On my left, the east side sat my two sisters and my left-handed brother (on the corner so he didn’t bump elbows with anyone) and on my right, the west side, sat my other brother and my dad. My mother faced me from the south end so she could get up and down easily and do all the things she needed to do; she was always doing something! My mother was the “doer” while my dad was the “talker.”

I include the directions because it was at that table that I learned those directions and for years I imagined myself at the table when I had to get my bearings as to north/south/east/west. I could share other things I learned at that table, picking up as I did, all kinds of information on weather lore, crop rotation, economics, local history, all from my dad. I might also have learned that dad’s word was truth and that mother’s job was to serve the family, because at that table it was so.

We often speak of our congregations’ love of potlucks. (The potluck is sometimes called the ninth sacrament.) Most of us can tell a story about how our church family does potluck. As one who has the amazing opportunity to share at many congregational family tables I have observed many things about how those “families” function. Most have a system of getting the food out and organized—hot, cold, salads, desserts. Sometimes the dessert stays hidden until the first course is cleared away. Others pile everything out and let you eat in whatever order you choose. In some places the children go first; in others it’s the guest. Some places have pretty much the same menu every time; others really mix it up or announce “theme meals” and try new or ethnic dishes.

What are the values lessons we pick up around this family table? Who sits where? Who makes the "rules" and who does the work? How are the tasks shared? Is conversation happening? Do families sit together or do you mix it up? What do our potlucks say about us as a church family? Is this a healthy congregation that gathers in the spirit of hospitality, welcoming all and sharing concern about serving others as well as ourselves?

What do you think? Have you ever thought about what your potluck practices might say about you the people and ideas you hold most dear?

Posted by Marion

1 comment:

  1. Hey! My back was to the north growing up, too. Come to think of it, I'm still at the north end of the dinner table.

    Potluck traditions are often so entrenched, to the "family" they seem obvious. It's often not obvious to newcomers, and if it isn't explained, it's at best a mystery, and at worst a confusing event that appears to be not welcoming at all. Some churches have people who act, officially or not, as guides to these traditions. Here's to those wonderful people.


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