Toward the end of Pastor McNulty’s sermon, the congregation began to get restless. The sermon was as captivating as ever, but by then everyone could smell the spaghetti sauce downstairs.
It was the Rizzos’ turn to make lunch.
When I was in college, I lived in Manhattan. One of the first things I did there was to find a church. I wanted to find a place that taught the Word, but also to find a place where I felt like I “belonged.” This was especially important because although my school had a great reputation, it was associated with a Jewish hospital, and the majority of its students were Jewish. Consequently, I really needed my regular doses of Christian fellowship. In this wonderful church, I found that - and more.
The church was nicknamed “The U.N Church” because although it was over two miles uptown from the United Nations, its members and guests spanned the globe. On any given Sunday you might sit next to a couple from Africa, and have a family from Bolivia on the other side.
Pastor Mc Nulty had a gift for making the Scriptures easy to understand. I appreciated this wonderful man of God, even though he often forgot my name and inexplicably called me “Charlotte”.
But as much as I looked forward to learning about the Word each week, I also treasured the lunches after Sunday services. When he first came to the church, Pastor McNulty had looked around at his multinational congregation and imagined how they could find ways to share their many cultures with each other. He began the Sunday lunches by inviting the congregation to stay after church one day, as his own family served the lunch that his wife had prepared. After that, each family or group of singles would take turns planning and preparing lunch for the congregation. Although it wasn’t required, he encouraged them to use foods that reflected their various cultures.
I loved the food but I treasured the fellowship. I felt like I was seeing a preview of heaven: people of all nationalities and races sitting side by side and sharing laughter and concerns as they enjoyed a meal. In a corner, all the children played happily with each other. There were always a few peanut butter sandwiches and fruit at the kids’ table, for those who didn’t want to try the meal.
The lunches were an oasis in my busy week. In order to attend college, I had to work three part-time jobs. Those jobs and my studies left me with hardly any time to socialize with my classmates, though I had made friends with some of them. So, despite the temptation to supplement my meager income with Sunday hours, I kept those Sunday afternoons open so I could enjoy lunch with my Christian “family”.
It must have struck a similar chord with the other members, because the congregation was composed of people from all walks of life. Their professions and family groupings were as varied as their ethic backgrounds. Despite our differences, each week we found a common ground in our love for the Lord and in shared conversations, prayers, laughter and tears.
What I remember most is the sense that I was enjoying a moment that would fill me up spiritually for the week to come. No matter what my week was like, I could look forward to worship every Sunday morning, and an enjoyable lunch with wonderful fellowship, each Sunday afternoon.
During the years that I attended the church, I took my turns making lunch. Since I lived in a dorm and couldn’t do much cooking, I banded together with five other female students from various colleges. Since we had varied backgrounds and limited time to prepare food, one of us suggested that we pool our money and buy submarine sandwiches. We were therefore known as the Submarine Sisters. I enjoyed those weeks as much as the ones when I got to sit back and enjoy new international tastes.
Pot luck suppers at my current church are always fun and the fellowship there is a blessing. But although I’ve lost track of my friends from that time, I often think of those days - and can’t help but wonder what’s going on at lunchtime there, this Sunday.
The opinions expressed by authors may not necessarily reflect the opinion of FaithWriters.com.
Accept Jesus as Your Lord and Savior Right Now - CLICK HERE
JOIN US at FaithWriters for Free. Grow as a Writer and Spread the Gospel.