Today was Gainer's Lunch at our little crappy church. It's a once-per-month meal served by our kitchen ladies for anyone who walks in. Our fellowship hall, small though it is, gets packed for these. Most of the people who come for lunch are not members of our congregation.
I sat with the kids at an empty corner table and soon a bunch of ragged-looking strangers joined us. We took part in some guitar-led singing and a prayer, then filled our plates with yummy goodness.
I was quiet at first. After all, it can be difficult to have conversations when our mouths are full of food. But also there was a battle between love and fear going on inside me. You see, these strangers already happened to know each other and that made me the minority at our table.
Being the minority is usually hard and scary.
Yet Gainer's Lunch is our only outreach to the community (I told you our church is crappy) and it's amazing people are drawn to it. I mean, it's only a meal. That's it. Nothing complicated, just come fill your bellies and donate a few bucks if you want. Or not. Just whatever.
Some people arrive after the songs and prayer because they only want the food. That's okay. It's about serving and welcoming them, not getting them to meet a standard. One such person came late to our table today.
"Hi," I said. "I recognize you. I've probably seen you around town."
He joked that he came in his wheelchair. Except it didn't register with me at first that it was a joke because I'm slow with that kind of thing. Often, by the time I realize something's a joke the conversation's already changed and it's too late to laugh.
His name's Daryl. He is First Nations and lives on the reserve. We talked about his lawn-cutting that he does, his grandsons, what it's like to live on the reserve, his roommate, his alcoholism. Mostly I just listened because I was curious and fascinated. And I saw Christ in his eyes—the love that binds and captivates.
It's the same Christ I saw in Barry's eyes, too, and in the woman beside him. I'm disappointed I didn't catch her name, but she seemed comfortable with me and I believe I'll see her again. It's the same Christ I saw in the other two women as well, the ones who talked with me about parenting and schools.
When they left Daryl said it was great to meet me and maybe he'd see me again one day and take me on a date. I think he was joking, but I'm not sure. Sometimes witnessing to the opposite sex can be awkward.
All I know is fellowship happened at our table and I'm thankful for the experience.
Remember me mentioning we were going to visit different churches once in a while? A couple Sundays ago, we attended a small gathering that meets in a gymnasium. It's been planted by Christian Life Community Church.
When we first walked in we were greeted at the building's entrance by a couple of people and we got to meet Naomi for the first time. She wrote down our children's names and explained there would be a kids' activity/learning session in a separate area part way through the service and that ours could join in if they wanted.
Tamara was excited because her friend was there and I chatted with a couple of mothers I recognized from her school.
Being first-time visitors automatically made us the minority, but I felt comfy and only slightly nervous. Kevin appeared to feel okay, too.
After some worship songs we were invited to "Koinonia" which is the Greek word for fellowship. During that, we drank coffee and socialized for about ten minutes, sent the children to their session. Next we watched a video sermon. I honestly don't remember any of that, but the pastor got up after and spoke for a few minutes of the passage about how when one or two are gathered in God's name, there He is with them.
They do Life Groups which they advertise as places of belonging and support. We will probably get involved in one of those in September when they start them again for the school year.
I felt safe there. People treated us like we were already members, and we'll probably visit them again some time.
This past Sunday, I took Trevor to our own little church again. Kevin opted to stay home with Tamara. Probably a wise decision because he's been working six days a week lately and sometimes it's helpful to simply stay home and relax.
We picked up a few groceries in the afternoon. I enjoyed smiling and talking to strangers in the store.