At an outreach team meeting earlier this year someone declared that she'd like to feed everyone. As in, the whole town? Or whatever, really, she just had this vision of the church as a place where people went to get fed, no strings attached. She always plants an enormous garden because she likes giving the produce away. This is a step beyond.
Well, we tried once in March. It was fun. We made twice as much food as we needed, though, and the only people who came were directly invited by church members. Not QUITE the expansive vision we'd had in mind. We decided to keep trying, though.
we filled all the tables twice
we ran out of chicken and ran to buy more
we had strangers stop in off the street
And the unobtrusively placed donation basket (all for the food bank) filled up to the tune of the auspicious (and ridiculously high) number $222.21 to which I will add a penny tomorrow for the sake of rhyme.
So there were a few things going to make this "more successful." For one, the people that came on direct invites last time (first degree of separation) came again with others this time (two degrees of separation). For another, someone at the newspaper thinks we're awesome, and wrote a great article last month and placed this month's calendar announcement well and with a photo. People know what it is and aren't afraid to just come in...
I just LOVE it though. I mean, I love people - vague amorphous crowds of them - strangers interacting in a place that is not strange to me. I love providing excuses for people to get together.
And I love entertaining them. With music from John Denver to Cat Stevens to plenty of gospel bluegrass... to Old MacDonald by special request... our four-piece band expanded to six later in the evening before cleanup efforts tore it apart.
I love feasts, they remind me of the feeding of 5,000, or of heaven.
I love the fact that another pastor was there and wants to "steal" this idea for his church too. And my mind went there -- we could have all the churches doing it on a rotating basis -- there could be free meals every Friday night of the year -- I dream big. We could have festive not-quite-Eucharistic meals every week at different places, providing not just food to stretch those tight grocery budgets, but also support to people who need friendship and discussion, and perhaps even a little extra joy where it's needed.
I repeat - Best. Mission Project. Ever!