A Sabbath Meditation: Church, Community, & The Thing Itself

Today is Palm Sunday, for those of you who keep track of these things.

Today, at my church, we consecrated a small plot of land that is going to turn into a community garden. J & I are really excited about this. We look forward to joining together with our community, learning from the wisdom of those who’ve been gardening much longer than we have, digging in the dirt alongside the joy and abandon of the children of our children’s ministry, cultivating relationships with the youth. And, of course, we look forward to the harvest, to building community and sharing grace with folks who otherwise might not have access to fresh fruits and vegetables.

Before our consecration service this afternoon, we shared a meal together after the morning worship service. If you didn’t know, potlucks are pretty common occurrences in Baptist life (in low-church Protestant life in general, actually). Today, because we’re part of the small group of folks working to get the community garden project started at our church, we were also more involved in the set-up and take-down of the potluck: the tables and chairs, the plastic-covered tables, hauling dishes and silverware, etc.

But here’s the thing–there are folks who do this all the time. In fact, there’s a whole committee just for this at our church. And those folks cook lots of food, wash lots of dishes, cut the desserts, get the drinks, order the fried chicken… they do it all. And they do it often. And most of the time, nobody even knows it’s going on in the background.

Every church has got these folks. They’re behind the scenes, making the work of the church look like non-work. Sometimes they aren’t your conventional church folks either, or at least don’t seem like it, because they’re not up front singing in the choir or passing the offering plate.

These are the folks I am thinking about this afternoon.

Today’s Sabbath meditation is a poem I came across recently in GENERATE magazine that captures what I’d like to convey. It’s called “Restless,” and is offered to you with permission of the author, Mike Stavlund.


in every church I've seen
there are people
in the wrong places:
the kitchen, the parking lot,
the lobby, the coffee pot

cooking, cleaning, talking, smoking
they are pacers, millers-around,
baby-whisperers and malcontents

sometimes, they look like
they're avoiding 'church'
but when I squint
and look again
I see that they're
doing the thing itself


I encourage you to visit Mike Stavlund’s website for more information, to contact him, or to read more of his poetry.


One comment on “A Sabbath Meditation: Church, Community, & The Thing Itself

  1. Elizabeth's Dad says:

    I was baptisted as a baby at Fifth Street Methodist Church in Steubenville Ohio where I was born. The building is no longer a Methodist Church or even a UNITED Methodist Church and when it folded for lack of support my grandmother and uncle, 2 of the last members were sad. But for years there was a lady that worked in the nursery, I am told she was there when I was a baby, who was one of those behind the scene workers. I remember her face now (I think) and remember that when I was old enough to understand I was told that she had body odor but it didn’t mean anything to me then or before that as she was the lady I remembered in the nursery.

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