Wait, Was that When We Ate the Funnel Cake? {Book Club}

Hello friends, today we are discussing Chapters 5 and 6 in Liturgy of the Ordinary: Sacred Practices in Everyday Life by Tish Harrison Warren. Before we dive in, I wanted to share how you all were a part of a monthly writer’s group I’m in. I lead our local chapter, finding speakers and preparing a short interactive talk based on a passage of scripture. Last night our guest speakers shared about how the church has focused on truth and goodness while neglecting beauty. Because of this, too many artistic endeavors have moved outside of the church and away from Christian conversations.

Since they were talking about being creative, I thought of our discussion a few weeks ago involving bed-making and co-creating with God. I had everyone introduce themselves and share if they made their bed or not and if they had any strong feelings about bed making. Such a fun question and wow, I even had a woman shake her finger at me saying that, “Studies have shown the importance of . . . .” something related to bedmaking. Pretty funny. We looked at Genesis 1 and I had not noticed this before, but the use of the word, “created.” It’s used in the first verse, (“God created the heavens and the earth”) but the following verses, God said, “Let there be . . .” until verse 27.

Three times the word created is used! God created humans in his image, in his image he created them, male and female he created them. God also rested on the sabbath from all the creating he had done.

I shared what we have been reading and learning about co-creating with God when we make our beds, cook a meal, do the laundry, prepare a lesson plan, study a new language. I would imagine this book is coming out in your conversations too. (And maybe people will even wag a finger at you too. Ha!)

I loved in Chapter 5 how Warren took a simple warmed up lunch of leftover soup and explored the topic of nourishment. When my oldest niece was around age 5, I noticed that most of her memories were tied to food. When we would ask her if she remembered a person, place, or experience, her answer always began with “Was that where I ate _______?” And sure enough, it was.

I remember saying to my sister, “Have you noticed that all of Emily’s memories are tied to food?” She hadn’t, and it stood out to me because food is not the primary way I tuck people, places, or experiences into my mind and turn them into memories. Sure enough, Emily has grown up to be a foodie with an impressive pallet. I have been at meals with her where she has commented, “Mom, I think this soup could use some more tarragon and it probably has a little too much salt and I’m wondering what adding some onion would do to the flavor?” This was my addition to the dinner conversation, “This soup is good.”

I am often grateful for the food I eat. I hate being hungry. Hate it! And I become cranky if I go too long without food. I enjoyed Warren’s thoughts on word and sacrament and the way they nourish our souls. “Word and sacrament sustain my life, and yet they often do not seem life changing. Quietly, even forgettably, they feed me.”

The line that stood out to me was “And with anonymity and ingratitude come injustice.” Wow. I am grateful for the food I eat. I am grateful for the way it nourishes me. I am often aware of the abundance I enjoy. But in the general sense, not in the specific. I am probably not as grateful as I think I am. And with that ingratitude comes injustice. I need to let the idea of nourishment and injustice do some work in me.

If food is the door to my niece’s memory and heart, conversation and ideas are mine. We all need nourishment, whether physical, relational, or spiritual.

Chapter 6 was another chapter that I basically highlighted everything. As I’m reviewing my notes on everyday peace, many thoughts jump out at me. I’ll share one direct quote and one idea I’ve been pondering.

“Ordinary love, anonymous and unnoticed as it is, is the substance of peace on earth, the currency of God’s grace in our daily life.”

I love this because the idea of peace on earth can be so large and overwhelming I don’t even know where to start. But peace like this is a pebble tossed out. If I show up in my ordinary life with ordinary love, peace begins to ripple out. The lady who I smile at, the person riding the bus with me, the family member in my home. Small wave of peace upon small wave. And their ordinary love is the currency of God’s grace in our daily life.

I understand the sentiment of “being a pacifist who yells at her husband.” However, I wondered about that mysterious line God draws between peacemaking and necessary endings. So, if you read this chapter and feel conflicted about a situation you are in that might call for peaceful separation of some sort, I thought of you.

A few questions for you, my fellow reader. Are your memories tied more to food or conversations (or something else)? How nourishing is the local food where you are? Did you grow up in a tradition that “passed the peace?” How did it form you. All this and more in the comments!

Amy

P.S. Here’s the reading schedule for Liturgy of the Ordinary: Sacred Practices in Everyday Life:

October 30: Chapters 5-6, November 6: Chapters 7-8, November 13: Chapter 9, November 20: Chapter 10, November 27: Chapter 11

Photo by Jens Johnsson on Unsplash

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10 Comments

  1. Lisa O'Brien October 30, 2018

    This is the section of chapter 6 that stood out to me:
    “He would be the first to say that the problem of poverty is not simply a lack of money. It’s a lack of community, a lack of deep ties–family, friends, people you can count on, people to catch you when you fall. I sometimes think of my work, as a wife and a mom imperfectly seeking to love those around me, as a kind of homelessness prevention program. We want our kids to learn to build community, to be peacemakers that can go into the world and bless those around them.”
    This thought is so powerful and profoundly true to me. I work with street boys (or former street boys, I guess), and I see this reality daily. The reason I even know these boys is because they lacked a community that was effectively catching them when they fell. We are doing our best to be a community they can count on, so that they do not need to be homeless.
    I also love the perspective of being a mom as homelessness prevention. We are building up a sense of community for our children, giving them people to count on and hands ready to catch them when they fall. We are making peace for them. Hopefully they will recognize that on some level, and continue the work of being peacemakers in their lives.

    1. Amy Young October 31, 2018

      Lisa, I’ve made a cup of tea to enjoy while I read and interact with these comments :). Your comment teases out and highlights community on such a heart-tugging way: homelessness prevention for kids. Oh my word, who wouldn’t see the value when you think of kids on their own on the street and how vulnerable they are. AND the real long-term damage a lack of community can cause. Then I think of adults who are also not in community and while physically they are not in the same kind of danger of being attacked or assaulted, but really I underplay how damaging lack of community can be for them too. I now love the idea how this Book Club is a “lack of community prevention” place :). Yay all of us!

  2. Rachel Kahindi October 30, 2018

    I’m not sure what the doorway to my memories is. But my husband remembers people by what they were wearing when he first met them, which is completely impractical. He acknowledges this, and we laugh about it, but still…”Was she the one who wore a flowery shirt with black pants that time…?”

    In my churches growing up, we had a welcome and greeting time, but it was not between the sermon and communion – we didn’t have communion every week, either. I was not familiar with the term “passing the peace” before reading this book.

    In chapter 5, the whole discussion on nourishment is wonderful. That Jesus chose a meal for us to use in remembering him. That, the night before he died, the night he would be arrested and taken from his followers, he ate with them, and told them to keep remembering him in this way. “If all the cathedrals on earth were gone, all the most glorious art were lost, and all of the world’s most valuable treasures were thrown out, Christians could and would still meet for worship around the Scriptures and the Eucharist. To have church, all we need is Word and sacrament.” And then…”How should we respond when we find the Word perplexing or dry or boring or unappealing? … We receive what has been set before us today as a gift.” I don’t feel this way about the Word right now, but I do feel this way about meeting for worship with my church.

    And yes, soooo much good in chapter 6. It’s way easier to love my neighbors when I don’t have so many chances to prove it (or not). “We make false dichotomies between private and public, between social justice and ‘family values.’ But in Christian worship we are reminded that peace is homegrown, beginning on the smallest scale, in the daily grind, in homes, churches, and neighborhoods. Daily habits of peace or habits of discord spill into our city, creating cultures of peace or cultures of discord.” It’s hard. Thank God for grace and forgiveness. The quote from Anne Lamott is great: “Earth is Forgiveness School. You might as well start at the dinner table. That way, you can do this work in comfortable pants.” 🙂

    1. Felicity Congdon October 30, 2018

      I loved that Anne Lamott quote too. That is great.

    2. Amy Young October 31, 2018

      Okay, I’m laughing at how your husband remembers people 🙂 . . . because of how delightfully impractical it is. I do love hearing how each of our brains process information so differently! And I could say ditto, ditto, ditto on the discussion of nourishment and every day peace. It’s good to read and discuss this . . . in our comfy pants :)!

  3. Felicity Congdon October 30, 2018

    Chapter 5 was eye-opening. I definitely buy the anonymous kidney beans–even rejoicing that I finally found a store that sold this kind of canned beans that are so common in America. I can’t get them at just any store here. But, I had never thought about where they come from. I also grew up on processed foods, and I thought it was helpful that Tish didn’t approach the subject of being more thoughtful about the choices we make regarding food as having mastered it, but talked about making small steps toward being more aware, making small choices when she can about supporting local food production, having relationships with people who grow the food she eats.

    It also made me think of a pastor I had several years ago when I lived in America. In my college years and early twenties, I was an avid note-taker during church. Partly because I was a new Christian, and everything was so new to me. I was eager to be fed from the Word of God and to learn more. When I had babies and later young kids in the pew with me, I was unable to take notes anymore. Before I even realized that my habits in the pew had changed, my pastor said something like, “it’s ok to not remember the sermon you heard last week.” It doesn’t mean that it didn’t spiritually nourish you. It doesn’t mean that it wasn’t important to be here hearing it. He compared his own preaching to the daily need for meals. Like Tish also says in this book, “if you ask me what I ate for lunch last Tuesday, I probably won’t remember,” he said the same thing and that that doesn’t mean that that meal wasn’t important. It nourished you. Just like the preaching of the Word at church each week nourishes us, even when we might forget the details of it days later.

    What stood out to me from Chapter 6 was when Tish wrote: “Steven’s work [among the homeless] and my work [as a mom of toddlers] are inseparable. He needs me to seek peace with my husband. He needs us, as his friends, to pursue God and to love each other and our children well. He needs me to apologize to Jonathan for raising my voice in the argument we had today. He needs me to forgive. And we need Steven. We need him to be the prophet he is, to never let us forget that the poor are among us. We need him to constantly expand our horizons beyond our front door. We need him to keep inviting us to volunteer with him and to tell us how to pray for him. We need him to sit at our kitchen table and not mind, or not mind too much, when our kids throw green beans across the table.”

    This really resonated with me. Maybe even more so because I am away from my home culture, I thought this is SO TRUE. I need for our sending churches back home to keep “passing the peace.” To keep being faithful to preach the gospel. I need my friends back home to keep walking with the Lord, to keep working on their marriages. Failures to pass the peace within families or churches have that same ripple effect, but in reverse, the heartbreak and discouragement reaches much further beyond the original relationship. This is the first time I thought about disagreements with my husband effecting my Christian brothers and sisters. If I don’t “pass the peace” and allow my marriage to grow apart, it affects how I counsel others, it affects what non-christian friends see when they enter our home. It definitely effects my children. If will have an effect on friendships back home. This is something I’ve been marinating on this week. Because living overseas FEELS like we are isolated, I can tend to believe it doesn’t really matter to others the state of my marriage, but it does.

    Also, to answer Amy’s question, my memories are tied not to food, but to time and place. I remember a lot of my childhood based on where I was living at the time, I lived in one house until 2nd grade, 3-6th grade in another house, 7-10th grade in another, 11th grade in an apartment, 12th grade in a 5th house. Same with my adult years…I’ve lived in 13 different houses/apartments in the past 16 years. I have memories of place therefore I know this must have happened when I was __ years old. WOW—that is crazy. I’ve never thought about how much my memories are tied to these 18 different places I have laid my head. It makes me wonder how people who live in the same house for 10 or 20 years remember when events happened?!?! Another blessing of missionary life!!!?!?!

    1. Lisa O'Brien October 31, 2018

      I love these thoughts about sermons being nourishing, even if we don’t remember the details about them. Regularly being under the teaching of God’s Word makes a significant impact on us, even when we can’t identify the specifics.
      Similarly, we can have that kind of impact on each others’ lives (good or bad) as well, like you explored with how Tish talked about her relationship with her neighbor.

    2. Phyllis November 1, 2018

      You and I remember exactly the same way: which house or apartment we were in at the time. Even if the event didn’t happen in our home, it’s tied to which way we walked home afterwards, or where we slept that night, or something similar. That’s my main way to sort memories. Another is which baby I was pregnant with or carrying around at the time, but that actually for a pretty limited part of my lifetime.

  4. Spring November 5, 2018

    I too thought about nourishment in a deeper way. My husband did a small survey for his statistics class. He realized that so many of the people we work with and are friends with are undernourished. The are unable to afford vegetables and fruits. The fill their bellies but don’t nourish them. I want to stop taking my ability to eat healthy for granted. To be nourished is truly a gift.

    The chapter about peace was one of great timing for me. I pray for peace in our family weekly. I didn’t grow up in a liturgical church. We didn’t ever “pass the peace” but I find comfort in the thought of doing that. I value the idea of passing peace, Him being our peace, and it being something I can pass and experience from others. I realize that the peace needs to begin in my home, to start with me.

  5. Paulette November 12, 2018

    My memories are not tied to food, but most often to people and relationships and the sense of community or group dynamics. These memories often include conversations with people, but never what they are wearing! Too funny! But hey, if it works… 😊 Confession: when someone compliments my outfit, I thank them politely, while making the tough choice to either strain my brain, usually unsucessfully, to remember what I’m even wearing, or looking down to check. Is there anyone else out there who has this issue?

    Since living in the jungle, without a fridge, in the scorching heat, and with two or three months between purchasing groceries, I have lost my former love of cooking. Well, it may still be there; probably just in hibernation, to reawaken in temperate climates where there are luxuries like stores and fridges, and the fellowship of brothers and parents to eat with and appreciate what I cook. The palates of my village friends and coworker are much different than mine, and it’s just not much fun spending time on one-serving meals that are eaten alone.

    But recognizing that food is necessary to life and ministry, I continue to cook and eat and wash the dishes, day after day. Chapter three, (which I intended to comment on but never followed through), helped me see the routines of cooking and eating and cleanup as part of caring for my body, and therefore as an act of worship. As the oldest of seven children, I joyfully cooked many meals for our family, and now struggle, as a single worker living on her own, because these tasks seem like time wasted, or even spent selfishly, because they don’t directly benefit anyone else. Simplifying my diet to the extreme has been a huge blessing, because it eliminates choices and streamlines my daily routine, as well as my shopping list. Besides, I truly love almost all food, so most days I normally really enjoy my meals, simple and repetitive as they are, but still am tempted to resent the time spent on food prep and cleanup.

    Tish’s perspective was very helpful, in pointing out that most meals, even those slightly more exciting and creative than rice and lentils with cumin, are generally unremarkable. We eat them and move on, nourished and strengthened for the next few hours. We are not significantly impacted by each forgettable meal, yet we eat again and again. What an important reminder that even when God’s Word seems perplexing or dry or boring or _____, we are to keep eating, receiving daily bread from our Father, with faith that we are still being nourished and strengthened by Jesus Christ, even when we don’t feel it or see it.

    Two of the many quotes that stood out to me this week:

    “…my personal experience is not what determines whether or not something is a grace and a wonder, and that some of the most astonishing gifts are the most easily overlooked.”

    “…but [we] are new people, truly nourished, and therefore able to extend nourishment to others.”

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