As we settle into a long winter, I have heard that there has been a resurging interest in comfort food. Comfort food is, by definition, the meals that bring us comfort, peace, and even hope.
Each person has, I think, his or her own comfort food—food that carries with it very personal memories of childhood, associations with good times, and of course, great taste bud experiences. But it’s not all about the flavors. I happen to love sweetbread cooked French-style, but it’s not comfort food to me. My comfort food is all Chinese: chicken wings with black bean sauce, won ton soup, and dim sum. Notice that even chocolate is not included! Comfort food is easy food, amiable food, gregarious food, friendly food, kind food.
I first realized that everyone’s version of comfort food is different when I came here to the Midwest and realized the cultural food divide that separates me from, say, those who savor the comfort food of sauerkraut, deep fried pickles, and spicy sausages. For many Americans, comfort food is very American: macaroni and cheese, hamburger, pot roast, grilled cheese sandwich, fried chicken. Those are everything that one could ask for when you’re feeling stressed, or insecure, or uncertain, or just plain need some comforting.
Our Annual Meeting is coming up, at 9:00am this Sunday on Zoom. I had hoped that by this time, we would all be able to meet in person for this gathering, and I would have asked people to bring their own version of comfort food to share. Because we all need some shared cheer and solace, don’t we?
I would like to invite you to attend our Annual Meeting for the church’s own version of comfort food. It is true that these gatherings, because they are required by law, may seem a bit formal and routine. But this particular meeting will also bring cheer and solace to St. Barnabas members, because there is comfort and good news indeed. This parish remains strong and close, even through the tumult of 2020.
At the meeting, the congregation will vote for four new Vestry members, who will then have the exciting challenge of joining the current Vestry members in moving forward the mission and vision of the church during the next several months, including welcoming your new rector to St. Barnabas. The new rector will be blessed with a superb lay leadership team spanning all levels of ministry from the Vestry, MCL group, the SPOD team all the way to every Termite, OPALS member, musician, Altar Guild member and Godly Play teacher who so faithfully care for this church.
Most importantly, the new rector has you, all the people of St. Barnabas, to extend your welcome and hospitality and commitment and love to him or her. It is you who are the “comfort food” of the church. When you come to church and receive the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ, food for your souls, you are then sent out into the world to nourish others. You do that by being a Gospel voice in a world that, far too often, runs counter to Gospel values. And you nourish others also being God’s comfort food to those who are stressed, or insecure, or uncertain, or just plain need some comforting.
It may seem silly to call you the macaroni-and-cheese of the world. And some of you may be more like a flaming Baked Alaska, setting your community on fire with your prophetic voice. But the plain truth is that to be a human mac and cheese for a fitful world is a pretty amazing thing. You have certainly been comforting food to me even in just these past few months I have been here, nourishing my soul by your presence at St. Barnabas, and I dearly appreciate your support. Thank you all, and may God bless you.
I would love to hear your reactions and thoughts! Please respond at firstname.lastname@example.org and let’s have a conversation!