“There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus,” (Galatians 3:28 NIV).
I recall as a young child time spent rocking on my grandma’s front porch and listening to the ladies from the missions society gossip about the heathens whose church was across the street from theirs. It always puzzled me because the heathens seemed like such nice people and their church looked just like Grandma’s. As far as I could tell, there was no difference. Both believed in Jesus, wore funny hats on Sundays, and sang the same hymns. And both had great potluck dinners.
How did the church come up with the notion of the infamous potluck supper? As best I can tell, it all began in the fifteenth chapter of Matthew. The first gathering was a great success as Jesus served more than 4000 men, not to mention a few thousand women and children, and had leftovers to boot. All this came from one little covered dish. Actually, it was a covered basket. This was, after all, before the advent of Corning ware.
Later, the Baptists followed His lead, and the next thing you know, all denominations were celebrating a multiplicity of occasions with every variety of casserole known to man.
But the twenty-first-century church isn’t being caught simply serving up fish-and-chips. We have taken the notion of breaking bread and run with it. Not only do we break bread, but we crunch fried chicken, munch fresh veggies, scoop casseroles, slice pies, cut cakes, and sip coffees.
We chew the fat while chewing our food and extend the right hand of fellowship while our left hand extends the serving spoon. I’d say that covered-dish dinners are one of the most cherished rituals in the church today.
One Christmas our Sunday school had a potluck dinner at the McMillians’ home. Our class consisted of 150 people in a church of 1600. Because it’s a little difficult to be intimate with 150 congregants on a Sunday morning, the Christmas party was a great time to chat with people you didn’t normally have a chance to speak to otherwise. And because people tend to sit in the same seats each week, I’d never actually had a good look at about half of the class. The Christmas party was designed to remedy that problem.
Marshall and Denise’s home was beautifully decorated with holly, spruce, and magnolia clippings. It was filled with the sights, sounds, and smells of the season as well as the incoming aroma of the many delicious prepared meals. In an effort to provide crowd control and proper traffic flow, our host, Marshall, had posted directional signs around the house. One sign read “COATS,” with an arrow pointing up the stairs to their daughter’s room. Another read “HOT FOOD,” with an arrow pointing toward the kitchen.
Marshall was doing a great job at his post as official greeter and traffic police.
“Hello, how are you?” he said, greeting two ladies and one man as they made their way up the front steps with dishes in hand. “You can take your food into the kitchen and then follow the arrows up the stairs to the coat room.”
The obedient threesome followed directions well and then headed to the name tag table. But something didn’t seem quite right.
“Marshall,” I said, “who are those people? I don’t recognize them.”
“I don’t recognize them either, Sharon. But our class is so big. Maybe they sit on the other side of the room and we just haven’t noticed them before.”
They looked as though they could have been one of us. They seemed to know the drill. But something still felt strange.
“Just the same, go find out who they are,” I urged.
Marshall approached the trio, who were now looking a little bewildered themselves. “Excuse me. You are here for the Sunday school Christmas party, aren’t you?”
“Yes,” they answered. However, their yes sounded more like a question than an answer. Then they asked, “This is the Sunday school class for First Baptist Church, isn’t it?”
“No, ma’am,” Marshall answered. “This is the party for Forrest Hill. You folks are at the wrong place.”
Quickly the three embarrassed Baptists reclaimed their food, once again followed the arrows to the coat room, and hightailed it out of the McMillians’ house to another Sunday school covered-dish gathering a few doors down.
Won’t heaven be an interesting place? One big, perpetual, brightly-lit celebration of new birth. No covered dish required because God will sit us down at His banqueting table which He has prepared for us.
One great thing about this party will be that when the Methodists stumble into a room full of Presbyterians, no one will feel out of place. The Episcopalians will be chewing the fat with the Primitive Baptists, the Assemblies of God will be singing with the Lutherans, and the Church of God folks will be dancing with the Congregationalists.
And when each new saint arrives, we’ll hear, “Welcome! Come on in. Take your coat off and stay a while—an eternity, for that matter. You’re definitely in the right place.”
Dear Lord, forgive us for how we have separated ourselves as believers. Help us to see each brother and sister in Christ as dearly loved children of God. In Jesus’ name, amen.
What do You Think?
Isn’t heaven going to be fun? I can hardly wait!
Wikipedia tells me that there are around 41,000 different Christian (or so-called Christian) denominations. That’s a lot. Oh my.
Did you know that one of the pillars of Girlfriends in God is to cross generational, racial, and denominational boundaries to join the Body of Christ together as believers?
Today, I want to encourage you to memorize today’s truth. It is important.
And while you’re at it, here’s another one that is from my heart to yours: 1 Corinthians 2:2: “For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.” Leave a comment and tell me what that means to you as a Christian.
Do you love a good story? I do! Stories tug at the heart and open the eyes to the truths of Scripture in a way only God can do. I have complied 100 of my favorite stories and devotions into one book titled, Listening to God Day-by-Day. It is the perfect book for a quick pick-me-up before you start your busy day or a sweet dreams closure before you turn off the bedside lamp at night. And here’s some good news, this book is specially priced for the month of June. Get one for yourself, and we’ll include another free for you to share. It won’t show up on your receipt, but we’ll make sure it is included in your package.