Dinner Church: What does this mean?
This is certainly not a new idea. In fact, it’s as old as the Christian Church itself! After Jesus’ resurrection and ascension, followers met together for worship and learning how to share the Good News. Many of the early disciples were fishermen, farmers, and servants. The only time when they were available to gather together------as working-class people they worked long hours each day---was meal time! They came together sharing what they had (Acts 2: 46-47) and worshipping at the same time! This is what the early Church looked like!
Now, two millennium after Christ, the Church has come to separate worship and meals. The closest we usually come is during Lent when many congregations have a simple meal followed by a time of worship. Dinner Church returns us to our roots by combining those two things. Around the table: we share a meal, we share hearing Scripture and a short message/reflection from the pastoral leader, we share our prayers, we share an expression of faith. Then, strengthened, we go out into the world to share the good news we have heard and experienced. The distinctive message of the Good News is that God has given all we need to nourish, redeem, and send us----body and soul.
Here in the 21st century, this idea of “Dinner Church” is being revived because it recognizes that we are people of this world---busy in it---and we yet need time to worship and learn. Sharing the meal and a message gives us an opportunity to do that even if we are families who have days full of school and evenings full of homework (both children and adults can relate to this!). It gives us an opportunity to see how God’s nurture of both body and soul are connected. It gives us an opportunity to worship and learn as a family, a table full of gathered people, and a community. And, it’s a great, low-key opportunity to invite others to come, eat, and be fed. It isn’t formal, it isn’t fancy. But it is faithful both to our history and our story today.
We’ll follow the usual format for eating our Lenten meal together. We’ll gather and have a blessing. People will gather their food and sit at their usual tables. In the middle of the meal, we’ll hear the Word and a reflection. We’ll focus on some pertinent questions on our Lenten theme as guided table conversation. Finally, we will bless each other before leaving. Each of these practices are meant to help us practice experiencing Christ in our midst in other meals, in the midst of busy lives, on other days. Expect to spend no more than an hour for Dinner Church. But plan to spend some extra time in the week that follows just sharing the good news of a Savior who met, meets, and will always find us right where we are.