I want to tell you a few stories from my time away from y’all, if I may.
First, I live two doors down from one of my best friends, Colin. He texted me one day when I was on vacation with a simple, “Come outside. Bring beer.” My neighbors, who moved from Saudi Arabia, cook out whenever the weather allows it, and there was this impromptu gathering of people and as the sun set, and over amazing chicken and this sausage that was mind-blowingly spicy, we built a little community. It’s always nice when we have to get more chairs for more people.
Second, in Denver, as I stayed with my dear friend Valerie and her brother Jacob, there was a little soiree for me to meet the people in her life in Denver. (She’d probably argue that it was so they could see I am, in fact, real.) Throughout it, I was called, “The Reverend” (which made me feel like a PBS character, to be honest), but putting faces to names and stories, with fried chicken and six kinds of potato in this apartment overlooking the Rockies was rather, well, holy. We kept grabbing more chairs as people came and went.
Third, in Tampa, during the Bethany Ecumenical Fellows retreat, we added 50% more folks, from a variety of denominations. The conversation was honest, the site visits were inspiring, the alligators didn’t come out of the lake (for me, at least); but I remember the food. There’s something about reading people’s hurts and hopes through limited eye contact and no conversation. There was a sacred breaking of the bread as we shared a meal alone together.
I read the news about the Supreme Court and wonder about how many wedding receptions we’ll host in the next year. I read the news about Baltimore and my heart breaks for the 85% of Baltimore public school students who are eligible for free breakfast and lunch but are now home and not eating much. I think about rice bowls in Nepal. I think about crawfish in New Orleans. I might be hungry, but I don’t think so. I think what everyone—you, me, us, them, everybody—is after is to get fed. The way we do that, of course, is to feed one another.
I’m working through a bunch of stuff getting ready for Sunday, where we’ll spend a couple weeks on the twenty-first chapter of John, which is kind of the mid-credits scene for that Gospel. It’s an Epilogue, of sorts, and it’s about a cook-out, and so much more. For now, though, we’ll feed one another and get some grub ourselves. Maybe this will all make sense Sunday! I look forward to seeing you then.