The "Three F's" we used to call them, teasing our youth minister, who always promoted Food, Fun and Fellowship as the "bait" for any youth group gatherings. And his youth group meetings were fun, and there was food, and the youth found themselves making friends with other teens from at least six different high schools, because of the fellowship.
He was on to something, and the something he was onto was community. We live in a culture starving for community, where people chat and text and Facebook and email, but rarely sit face to face, even around a family dinner table. Luis Coehlo's piece in today's Episcopal Cafe essay reminded me again of how important community gathered around a common meal -- whether it's the Eucharist, coffee hour, a potluck, or the church picnic -- can be.
Coehlo writes, "In churches, similar events also happened. From “dinners on the grounds” to Shrove Tuesday pancake suppers, food, community and conversations have always been part of our Church life. The rich noise of children running around the parish hall and vivid conversations between parishioners of different sorts still can be heard in many of our Churches across the world. In many places, however, this community life centered around food and conversation is dying, often substituted by an innovative “consumer Gospel”, which produces short term growth, but in the long run has increasingly contributed to empty houses of worship."
All Saints knows the gift of the common meal, the gift of the "Three F's." This is a place where people do gather to eat and chat at leisure, building bonds of community that sustain us in the rest of our lives throughout the week. We'll be eating again tomorrow at Patriarche Park, rain or shine, in the picnic pavilion. Service at 10, food, fun and fellowship directly after.