PULPIT OR POTLUCK?

I went to a restaurant, once, because I hadn’t been there before.  The advertisements outside the establishment had wonderful looking photographs of the prepared meals, so mouth-watering appealing, so I went inside and ordered a meal.  It looked nothing like what I saw on the photo, making me wanting to take the meal outside and compare it against what was seen and worse yet, I walked out of the restaurant unsatisfied, unfilled and disappointed.  The worse part of it yet was, I had to pay for what was not satisfactory and although I try to be kind and tip graciously because I realize the worker is underpaid, overworked and could use help, I did leave something nice behind not to express my wonderment of having dined there but for simply saying, “I’m sorry for you!”

How many times would you plan on eating in a place which leaves you not happy?  Then why is it many of you do the same thing, week after week, in your houses of worship!  The building is attractive.  The choir sounds pretty good.  The people are friendly and the air conditioning works just fine, and you do have a good seat, but what you’re dining from off the pulpit was not quite what you would have expected nor needed.  It didn’t do anything for you!

I used to wonder at this new feature of church which seems to be taking over by popularity.  The “potluck” after services.  Now, growing up, I don’t remember any of those taking place.  If I search really hard, I can remember it happening—once!  It would have been a good thing because of the distance we had to travel especially in the winter and our services ended late and the youth services began shortly, and it did seem as though we were rushing, and we needn’t be, especially during inclement weather.  I am under the belief many are actually showing up not for the “pulpit” but for the “potluck”?

Now, this is just a side note.  If you look at the etymology of the word, “potluck”, this is what you would find:  “The word pot-luck appears in the 16th century English work of Thomas Nashe, and used to mean “food provided for an unexpected or uninvited guest, the luck of the pot.” The sense “communal meal, where guests bring their own food,” originated in the 1930s during the Depression by influence from potlatch and by extension of traditional sense of “luck of the pot”.

I don’t know about you but I’m always suspicious of “mystical” words like “luck”, which is defined:  “The definition of luck (or chance) varies by the philosophical, religious, mystical, and emotional context of the one interpreting it; according to the classic Noah Webster’s dictionary, luck is “a purposeless, unpredictable and uncontrollable force that shapes events favorably or unfavorably for an individual, group or cause”. Yet the author Max Gunther defines it as “events that influence one’s life and are seemingly beyond one’s control”.

Ahem, do I want “luck” when it involves anything going into my mouth?  Do I even say, “Good luck” as a Christian?  If the word or phrase indicates a fact of spiritualism, then why would I want to be a part of it?  Or, could it be another form of spiritualism which has invaded our worship experience through the back door and nobody was watching?  I think these things have an importance and we just need to be mindful of what we say, what we mean, and what it means—period.

Now, getting back to the point of this post.

I think too many of us starve for a really satisfying and good meal from the pulpit which makes the potluck more desirable.  Perhaps some of us look forward for the sermon to end just so the real “worship” can begin, the feasting and honoring the idol of appetite.  How many of us then find that particular pew afterward and then get involved with St. Mattress?

Just as food preparing can take many hours to do and yet it is all eaten within twenty minutes, the opposite is true for the sermon.  What could be delivered in twenty minutes or was gotten together in twenty minutes takes many hours to deliver!  And that should not ever be.  No wonder many more desire to spend their time in “Fellowship Hall” because the “Sanctuary” had a drought and famine for the true “manna” of God.

In the times of ancient Israel the attendees to their services was done while standing on foot.  Makes me wonder how that would fly in our churches today!  How many of us could even stand for twenty minutes never mind the hours of someone pontificating from the Sacred Desk not delivering anything!  We would definitely need a meal after that exercise if not a little foot powder to bring relief.

So, the next time you are attending your worship service and there is a meal afterward, you tell me, which was tastier.

April 29, 2017