Several years ago I had a falling out with a friend over dinner. I had worked had all week, then went to the store and bought bread and wine and worked for hours to prepare a meal that I thought they would enjoy, but they didn’t show up. When I called to check on them, they said, “Oh yeah, we just had such a busy week we decided to stay in and relax.” As I scraped the food into the trash, and put away the extra dishes, I was furious.
Yes, I was angry because I went to so much trouble to prepare everything, and, yes, it hurt because it wasn’t as important to them as it was to me, and, yes, it felt like I wasn’t as important to them as they were to me, but my feelings were much deeper and more intense than that.
It wasn’t until much later that I realized that these friends had done to me what it feels like people too often do to the church. Every week, we throw away bread and pour out wine that was intended for people who should have come to the feast. I file my sermon away wishing that people I care about could have been there to hear how much God cares about them.
The past several weeks worship has been amazing at church. Every Sunday we leave and get in the car and shake our heads that the place wasn’t packed. Oh, I know we are busy, but we all still seem to find time and money to eat. Why do we so irregularly find a bit of time to nourish our souls in a community of family and friends? Do our souls really need it less than our bodies?
I get the busy-ness and the radical individualism of our culture, but aren’t those things that diminish us? What things are we doing that enrich our souls and connect us to community, as well as God/Life?
I guess this sounds like a preacher whining because people don’t some to hear his or her sermon. Perhaps that is all it is, but I am haunted each week by the image that our Heavenly Mother has prepared a place for us, and then spends Sunday afternoon throwing away perfectly good food and wine.
by Michael Piazza
Center for Progressive Renewal