Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Church.

We went to church on Sunday. That is typically the plan, you know. Get up late, tornado all five of us through the house, then talk to our friends and sit in our pew and feel good-good-good about it all.

I'm a big believer in church. Years ago, I went through my cynical "What's really the point?" phase. But I reemerged committed to a community of a people who know what I know to be true, who bring me grilled chicken and homemade mashed potatoes and cakes from a box when the need arises, who huddle around me and fortify me.

We need each other. It's how it's supposed to be.

This Sunday found us having church across the street, in a little apartment complex that I have never once given a moment's thought. I never bothered myself with who lived there or what their stories might be.

We pitched-in a picnic lunch spread - dogs, burgers, potato salad, baked beans, fresh fruit, veggies, chips and an entire table of nothing but desserts. We had the 3 requisite yellow coolers topped off with lemonade, water and iced tea.

The residents had been invited to come and eat with us - no strings attached.

Grey skies loomed large, the grill wouldn't light. Our kids were all haywire, having been sprung from Sunday School on a lark. Oh me of little faith decided that if no one showed up, we would still have a great time - our little community.

And then, fifty people came.

Most were "Seniors", so I admired costume jewelry and took mental notes for future girl names. Harriet! Why not. Some had rouged cheeks that made my chest ache and some needed a bath. Some accepted help and others should have, but surely had their reasons for going it alone.

I ate my hot dog with a younger lady who took one bite of Dora's strawberry dessert and proclaimed, "This tastes just like heaven! I really think I just died and went to heaven!" This one, she has a hard life. It was written all over her face. She let it slip that her daughter is about to leave for college and I made my face extra bright, so sure that she must be over-the-moon proud. And I think she probably is. But I also think that when life bears down on you, every day, every day, you start to view opportunity as bondage. You see the world through mud-tinged glasses.

As we talked, I found room on my plate for dessert and went straight for her suggestion. She said to me, "I never eat food this good. Never. I almost feel guilty eating so good! I don't deserve this."

We were eating hot dogs and potato chips from a bag, and yes, the girls in my community can cook up a mean streak, but this was a picnic.

My heavenly dessert caught momentarily in my throat and I knew for sure - this was church. Our little community extending beyond what we are comfortable with and pulling others into warmth and understanding and tables filled with nothing but desserts.

tuesdays unwrapped at cats

66 comments:

  1. this post made my heart ache...in a good way.

    on a lighter note i was recently conversing about the names ruthie and betty.

    very sweet post. very true reminder.

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  2. Beautiful! We Love going to church too! I love your post! Lovely! ~lulu

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  3. What a great time! Enjoying a simple meal with a person that you know little about... yet learn so much in a short time. Really great to read that your church helped the community. That is what it's all about.

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  4. You are so right..that is church. Your heavenly desserts and arms outstretched were true examples of Christ:). I love old names, too, and have my own little stash:). If we ever have another little girl, she will be Mabel.

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  5. This post made me cry. Now that is church!

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  6. I think I cry just about every time I read your blog... and I'm not a cry-er, really! Good for you for recognizing what it's really all about... faith and community and giving and receiving and sharing love, and passing it all around. <3

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  7. Your are so right...that WAS church!

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  8. Church is not a place it is the community. You made their year by simply stopping and realizing that they are present. How wonderful.

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  9. Church is a spirit and feeling, not walls, roofs and bricks. Amen, great post.

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  10. Wow. The cynical phase comes to all of us, I think. So glad God sees us through that time to make us realize what a treasure fellowship within a church body is.

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  11. now that is good stuff. I love desserts...especially the God desserts He gives us w/in our heart.

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  12. I love that you did this! How sweet of you to share with the neighbors. There is a proverb that says it is better to have soup (or dogs & chips!) with a friend than to have steak with an enemy. I think you lived this on Sunday! :)

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  13. What a great time you must have had. The sermon at our church this Sunday happened to be about community. Before we moved, we lived in a neighborhood in Atlanta that was referred to as the hood (I'll spare you the stories) but some of us in the neighborhood started a thing on Sunday evenings called "Prayer and Hotdogs." They would set up a grill one of the busy corners and, you guessed it, offer prayer and hotdogs for all who came. It turned out to be quite a ministry!

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  14. Yes. I agree. You touched the heart of the people and that is what it's all about.

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  15. Just beautiful!!!! And that is what it is all about:) So glad you shared this with us

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  16. That sounds so nice. I really need to find a church I can connect with.

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  17. Hotdogs, desserts, old ladies with lives written all over their faces, grace, love, hope,and mercy served with lemonade. It's what makes the world go 'round, what makes the heart of God smile. It's all so simple, and we make it all so hard.

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  18. Such a sweet post. Church can be in so many places can't it? The church has carried my family through many a time, and yet I go through periods of skepticism too. But this is truly what it is about...

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  19. Beautiful, authentic, life-changing church!

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  20. I love that your church did this, Shannan. Yes, that is the church. May God please open our eyes to the precious people all around us who need the church to come to them in a real way. And let us be moved to action! And may their hearts be turned to Christ through our small acts of kindness.

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  21. Church is always found in the heart of people and not necesssarily a building. Like you, I love, love, love my church. Hubby and I recently found one we both can believe. It has brought us so close and fortifies us.

    May God continue to bless you...

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  22. Wow. That was beautiful! What a great thing for your church to do! That's how Jesus did church, being among the people. I think we forget that sometimes.

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  23. That is it. Stepping out,serving, taking the time, and loving others. All over hot dogs too! :)

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  24. Amen and amen. Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done... truly a picture of His Kingdom come on earth. Thanks for sharing such beautiful words.

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  25. Yes! That is church! Not a building...

    Loved to hear about it.

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  26. That made me cry and laugh. Feeling undeserving and the costume jewelry. One of the biggest areas of bondage is feeling that we are undeserving of God's unfailing love. I am thankful that your church stepped out and opened it's arms to love others.I saw a sign the other day ... Your life may be the only bible some people ever read. Thanks for representing! xoxo

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  27. So sweet... you made some people very happy with your kindness.

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  28. I hope you're able to go back. The village needs this type of community. It can be a dark place.

    We are going to be at the park south of the tracks tonight handing out popcicles to the kiddos and hopefully experiencing some new community of our own. And we're going back, every Tuesday this summer (maybe beyond, who knows?).

    I am excited. But terrified. Thanks for the encouraging words. When we are obedient and step out, He is faithful. Amen.

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  29. Thank you for sharing - funny and touching all at once! God is amazing when he moves isn't he!

    PS - I like Harriet, but then again I dig old people names - hence Everett :)

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  30. Hi Shannan! What a beautiful post! I know I've said it a million times, but girl, you can write!!! The priest at our church always tells us to "give your children the gift of faith" and bring them to church...but I like the idea of giving them the gift of community as well...great post!

    Hugs ~

    :) T

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  31. Ever since we moved to Minnesota (6 years ago) we have not found our "church". It's a big void and just hearing you describe it makes me long for it even more. Lucky girl!

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  32. Lovely post. Just lovely. I'm still in that cynical stage that I've been in for a decade and feel that Christians aren't very Christ-like. This helped. You're right that IS church.

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  33. outstanding post. that is church, you nailed it.

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  34. beautiful, incredible post! love it!

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  35. Thanks for sharing. Jesus is in his people. That is what church is that and I am so glad that you and your church community are doing His work...and enjoying heavenly desserts!

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  36. Incredible post....and the name Harriet...smiles...my favorite grandmother's name was Harriet and I swear she is my guardian angel. And this is proof of what I've always said..you don't have to go to "church" to believe...church can happen just about anywhere. Its all in the fellowship, compassion, faith, and love...not what building it's held in.

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  37. By the way...on the subject of "old woman names" :) she (my grandma) had two sisters....there was Harriet, Hazel, and Halo.

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  38. What an incredible post! This is the true meaning of what church is, faith, love, amd fellowship!

    Kelli
    xoxo

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  39. Wow! We have been involved in our church for a long time... I'm kind of going through a phase of feeling detached and flustered. But it's not about the church politics or the order of things... it's about reaching people with the heart of Jesus! Thanks for sharing.

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  40. A beautiful post...church, is where people share their love for each other, as Christ did for us. Thank you for sharing this...it's a good reminder for all of us.

    Much love...

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  41. How true and sweet! I love the rouged cheeks!

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  42. So there's already an Ozzy in your life...why not add a Harriet?

    Ok, so this reminds me of how much I hated church people then 3 John slapped me in the face...I was supposed to love CHRISTIANS?! AHHHH!!!!

    SO I decided to love them. And now I do. I love the church. I just had to decide to love it, even though it didn't deserve it and was unloveable. Now it comes easy, this Christ love. YAY!

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  43. Such a thoughtful thing for your church to do. So nice of you to take the time to get to know this person on this day. This sure pulled at my Heartstrings.

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  44. yes yes yes!!! I want to attend a church like that, an un~church. I have no church at the moment, and I'll admit, I'm starting to view my life thru mud tinged glasses, Oh Lord help me!

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  45. And the fruit salad! It was ta die for!
    The food wouldn't have been as good were we not able to listen to the stories and get a glimpse of so many lives! Thanks for sharing Shannan! It was a beautiful day even if it had to rain!

    ~Heather

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  46. Kitchen table or picnic table church! Love it! Keep on keeping on. What a great idea! Hope you can again and again and make some lasting connections with those folks who need hope and faith as well as community. And to live out what "church" is. Well done!

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  47. Such a beautiful message! Inspiring!
    ~Holly

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  48. I loved this!!Your church is awesome with oodles of awesome members. What a great idea, so simple, and yet so appreciated by so many.I think what made the wonderful food so wonderful, was the love that went into it!! And the message that they were worth the effort, and not forgotten. You know you served Jesus that day, "what ever you do to the least of these...".

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  49. you need to put this in the newsletter if we even still have one. your words perfectly described the experience...beautiful shan.

    this was church.

    xoxo

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  50. That is so sweet. Thank you for sharing that story!

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  51. What a wonderful post! Love when church isn't about the music being played or the clothes we put on, but really loving on people and being part of a community!

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  52. I love this Shannan. Such an awesome statement here...and a good reminder that "church" isn't a building...it's a state of mind.

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  53. What a beautiful post. You have taken my breath away, thank you for an amazing reminder that "church" is not a buidling but people, God's people. His children are all around us. Certainly you made a big difference in the life of 50 on Sunday.

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  54. It's so sad that she doesn't realize how much she deserves. I think that day must have been a blessing to many on both sides.

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  55. The power of church reaching beyond the walls! Lovely indeed,
    xo,
    LuLu

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  56. I just love times like that with our church group...

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  57. This is a beautiful account of a beautiful day. You loved those people and they felt it. Moving for sure.

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  58. I'm happy it turned out so well!! (And sad that I had to miss it!)I'm ashamed to say that I was a bit cynical thinking that no one would show up. Very glad to be proven wrong. Beautiful words! I like Brooke's idea of putting this in our newsletter for the congregation to read.

    P.S. My kids came home talking about that cheese cake. I'm going to have to ask her for the heavenly recipe.

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  59. i love this post, you always make my heart smile.

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  60. I would really love to learn more about chickens. I have been trying to decide if it would be a good idea to get some.

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  61. It sounds like just my kind of gathering. I love it that you ate with the seniors. They are so precious, aren't they?

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  62. Great post! Our Church family has blessed us so much and we try to bless our church family too. That's the way it works best!

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