The newly formed Meal Ministry Team consists of Tessa, Lisa, and Jan. We’ve been hard at work preparing the meal theme guidelines and meal assignments for the coming year. A second function of our team will be to shepherd the Sunday meal process in the coming year.
When you are going to be absent on a Sunday…
Our meal and dessert together are an embodiment of several of our values: seeing the other, hospitality, and a shared responsibility to create and hold the “container” that contains the life of Abbey Way. Bringing food for our meal is a concrete connection point that ties all of us to the AW community.
We are going to adjust the way we provide for our food when we need to be absent from a Sunday meal in order to make our shared practice more in keeping with our shared values.
When we are going to be absent on a Sunday, we have the opportunity to continue to participate in this shared responsibility by making arrangements to ensure that our part of the meal will be covered. (Thus, even in our absence, we are present!)
When you know you going to be gone, please take the following steps to provide for your food:
Trade—Call (or email) another household and suggest a swap—you will bring the other’s food on a different Sunday, if they can bring your food on the Sunday you’ll be gone.
Drop off Food—Make arrangements to bring your prepared food to another Abbey Way-er who can bring your food for you on Sunday.
Ask Someone for Help & Pay it Forward—If you are unable to find a trading partner or drop off your food, or if you are ill/unable to come at the last moment, call (or email) a household and ask if they would bring food for you. Since you will not be “paying back” the person who is helping you, look for ways to “pay it forward,” that is, offer to bring food for someone else as a way to lift a burden for them. Searching out a way to “pay it forward” strengthens our ability to see the other and makes us more aware of those who might be struggling in our midst.
Why the switch?
Trading and asking for help keep us connected and give us opportunities to practice thinking of the other. This new system attempts to keep in balance our Benedictine values of shared responsibility (we are all parts of the body and all of our contributions are needed) and of making space for the “weaker” among us (taking care of those who, due to life circumstances, are less able to contribute).
Take It a Step Farther
We can extend our thinking of “the other” this year by generous acts of compassion. For example, when someone is going into the hospital, having a baby, experiencing job loss, or going through a rough patch, how about covering their food for a Sunday or two? Take a moment and think before the need arises and extend a hand, or should we say a “dish?”
Open to Dialogue
The Meal Ministry Team is open to dialogue about this new system or any other part of the Sunday meal process. We spent considerable time thinking about the unique needs of households when preparing the schedule and hope it is a good fit for each of you. If something needs tweaking, please come talk with us.
A word about whole-group emails…A very specific part of our new practice is refraining from using a whole-group email to try and find someone to cover your dish. A byproduct of the new system (we hope!) will be a strengthening of relationships between individuals at Abbey Way, as we ask for and receive help from one another.
In closing, at Abbey Way, we see bringing food for our shared meal and dessert on Sundays as a central place where we live out our values of seeing the other and co-responsibility for the life of the church. Our new practice of trading, dropping off, or paying forward our gifted food will strengthen our values and our relationships with each other.