Today’s blog post is from Ashley Dellagiacoma, Restart Pastor at KINDRED in Houston, TX.
+KINDRED is a one year old Restart Congregation that gathers weekly for dinner church in Houston, TX. We meet in a historic building among a vibrant urban neighborhood that boasts some of the best restaurants in the city. Our people know good food, but still hunger for something more.
Preparation for worship starts early in the afternoon as one of our own chefs fire up anything from chicken tikka masala to collard greens and ham hocks. Our “altar guild” consists of 4-year-olds who help fold napkins and people sleeping on the streets who fill the communion cups. The truth is that worship has already begun. From setting the table to loading the dishwasher and everything between, we are proclaiming God’s presence and praise in this assembly and beyond it.
As +KINDRED, we understand the sacramental table to be a very long one. It starts at the cross and goes all the way out the doors to the church building. We ring the old church bell, light our candles, and then immediately bless and break the bread of Holy Communion. We hear the invitation “this is God’s table and all are welcome – children and skeptic, sinner and saint – we are ready to begin the meal.” The bread is whatever would normally accompany the meal – corn tortillas, croissants, or even red-velvet cake on Pentecost. It still holds a special place in the liturgy, but leads us into a sacramental way of being. As we fill our plates and share lively conversation across the table, we discover Christ meeting us in the ordinary. We learn to see Jesus in ordinary bread that goes beyond the sanctuary walls. So during the rest of the week when someone sits down for a taco with a friend, the tortillas on their table reminds and connects them to something bigger. After engaging scripture, prayer, and song we end our time together with the blessing of the cup just as Jesus and the first followers did. Everyone serves and everyone is served, as we share this simple wine around the table.
When people walk in for the first time, they are delightfully surprised that a space can retain its beautiful stained glass window and dark wood-worked ceilings while also accommodate rough-hewn tables and eclectic chairs. The ancient and modern elements come together to reflect that this is something sacred and also accessible, familiar, and inviting. They leave having been fed, body and soul.