What brought me to the seminary was a project I'd been assigned, to give a presentation at a conference on the future of the denomination of which I've been a part since the day I was born--well, maybe before (Jeremiah 1:5, for Pro-Lifers), the Christian Reformed Church of North America.
Quite simply, I was going around, hither and yon, asking a question pertinent to the future of a whole host of seminarians--to wit, what exactly is the future of the church? I stopped by at coffee time, so the sampling of seminarians who surrounded me was random; I had no idea if I was talking to conservatives or liberals or some combination thereof. But their answers were remarkably of a kind. They maintained that the church--their church upon graduation--would stay together only to the degree to which they could hang in there as a community.
Me: And how will you create and maintain community?
Them: Potlucks (lots of grins).
It wasn't a dopey answer. They meant it, and I knew it. Potlucks bring people together to eat food, shared food too, holy food. In the Reformed tradition, nothing is sacred (hold tight to this bucking bronc of a paradox) because everything is, even, and maybe especially, a potluck--shared food and drink and conversation, the communion of community.
Last night, for the first time this holiday season, I greeted people at the door with "Merry Christmas." Couldn't help thinking it was more than a little premature, but I did. We were hosting the first Christmas party of the year, and it was, forsooth, the apropos way to greet them.
The descending sudden silence when a party is, at once, both a curse and a joy. Suddenly, we were alone with way too much punch and coffee. But this morning, I can happily report that, looking back on the evening, it was a good time, a good first Christmas party (tonight is another).
It was good because the living room was full of good people, people I've come to like and appreciate. It was a good night because right here just off the banks of what little there is right now in the Floyd River, we had community. Not church, but community.
And on the table last evening--you guessed it--a potluck.
That's why, this morning I'm thankful for potlucks.