Why Aren’t Our Tables Longer?

Biscuits for 200

12 qt. flour

2 c. baking powder

1/4 c. salt

3 c. shortening

About 5 1/2 qt. milk

Mix ingredients together and drop by spoonful onto ungreased pan. Bake at 425 degrees for 15 minutes.

Submitted by the Little Meadows United Methodist Women

I’m currently visiting a great friend and Pastor in New York, and he happens to have a couple of church cookbooks on display in his dining room hutch. I’m immediately drawn to the spiral-bound books, each embossed with beautiful drawings of the church and filled with comforting recipes for families and for crowds.

The recipe above is gleaned from the Sesquincetennial Cookbook of the Little Meadows United Methodist Church in Pennsylvania, a church community that’s been around since 1844.

As I flip through these cookbooks, I see many names, the names of folks who continue to be well-loved by their congregations and families. Those who submitted recipes are members of the church, people who are part of the Willow Point Nursing Home, those who are in leadership as District Superintendents, and those whose recipes are reprinted in their memory. There are spouses, post office workers, and, though it shouldn’t surprise me, my friend’s mom who also serves as a pastor.

In some ways, these cookbooks are a testament to the human, earthly, relational connection we have to one another and to the food in which we partake. The tables we set for our families, friends, and guests are not just places where we fill our plates and fuel our bodies; the tables we set are places of love and comfort, but can also be places of hurtful conflicts and divisiveness. To deny this would to be silent in the face of reality. And yet, I believe in the power of the table, the power of food to bring us to a place of reconciliation, even if the food grows cold before we reach a point of understanding, of humanizing the other. It may take seasons, from the cellar vegetables of winter squash soup to the fresh sauteed asparagus of early spring, through to sun-sweetened August tomatoes, but through it all, we stay at the table.

In some ways, these cookbooks are just as precious as the hymnals we find stacked in church pews. The recipes that line these pages have been sung a few hundred times, if not more, for these are sacred stories bound together by being served at the same table, side-by-side. We are stitched together; good to one is good to all, and we stay at the table.

In some ways, these cookbooks remind us of the creative spirit that runs through us, engaging a flow of inspiration that cannot be explained. After reading through a recipe a couple of times, it can even become ingrained within us, a muscle memory that teaches us along the way. Their story becomes our own, and we stay at the table, in solidarity with one another and with the creative spirit that brought us here in the first place.

What does it mean for you, today, to stay at the table, even in the midst of conflict? What recipes do you have to share? And how are you witnessing solidarity?

Or. Who have we failed to invite to the table? Who are we missing? Why aren’t our tables longer?

Who are we missing?

Why aren’t our tables longer?

May we all have a reason to bake biscuits for 200.

— Christy

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