I have an observation about my church.
I’ve noticed the quality and the quantity of snacks have increased substantially over the past year or so.
Every week there’s coffee, that’s pretty much standard for before and after any church service. But now there’s fancy ice water and a cold, milky coffee drink that I can’t get enough of, and sometimes also hot chocolate — with marshmallows and other assorted fixin’s.
Most notably, we’ve gone from the occasional after-church doughnuts or cookies to table tops piled with cookies AND doughnuts AND fruit — AND bacon.
One time there was a table filled with a dozen or so huge jars of colorful candies.
This past weekend it was fried chicken, tables set with place settings and an entire chicken dinner at each seat.
I’ve learned that it’s best to come to church hungry, because you never know.
My church believes that church doesn’t end at the worship team’s final song and the pastor’s benediction.
We believe that the after-church snacks are a continuation of the worship service. We’re in the Father’s house and he says, “Are you hungry, kids? Let’s eat.”
This past weekend, my pastor’s sermon was one of my favorites of his topics: the church as family.
It was a good appetizer for the meal we had together, the meal prior to the after-church fried chicken.
Before the chicken we first had communion together, sharing the sacrament together, the “communion of saints,” as it says in the Apostle’s Creed, a symbol and the very means of bringing us together as one family.
My pastor always talks about coming to the Lord’s table as a family. He always says we “walk to heaven together.”
Author Hannah Anderson writes that as we come to the communion table “we are pursuing more than sustenance; we are seeking the goodness of knowing we have a place, of knowing that there will always be room for us. We are seeking the goodness of home and family and community.”
My favorite part of communion is watching the people return to their seats after they’ve received the bread, dipped it into the wine, then eat it.
The musicians playing, people singing. You can feel it — the Lord is in this place.
From my seat on the front row, as the people pass right by me, I’m struck by how much I love them, even if I don’t know their names.
Sometimes, if I catch someone’s eye, I’ll reach out and touch their hand or stand up and we’ll hug.
The communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, experiencing a taste of eternity, sharing a meal together here on earth in anticipation and preparation of the infinite meals we will share together forever in heaven.
I think that the fried chicken is practice for that time, too.
I imagine someone might think the amount of money my church spends on snacks is extravagant and could be put to better use, but it’s not about the snacks.
It’s about feeding and nurturing the family, getting us ready for the feast that awaits us when we are finally home.
Nancy Kennedy can be reached at 352-564-2927 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.