The Importance of Makan
Have you wondered why we try to serve some kind of drinks and/or food after every service?
About more than a year ago, the 4.30pm Service started serving refreshments after the service every week. A regular member commented that “this was the best thing that has happened to this service.”
We go back in history to recall that most of the early Christian gatherings happened in small groups. And people sat facing each other. We get glimpses into how they worship through the writings of Paul (as one example) and many of his injunctions in 1st Corinthians make sense in a small gathering where there is communication amongst Christians as they worship. Read Paul’s concerns over the use of spiritual gifts. Or the behaviour of some when the Lord’s Supper meal was served. Oh yes, the communion then was a lot more than a piece of wafer and wine dip. Or take Hebrews 10:24,25 as another example, where Christians were told to encourage one another as they gather to worship.
Worship in the Jewish synagogues was also done this way. In fact some of the early words used for church, such as "ekklesia”, means assembly.
My point is this: interpersonal interactions between Christians should always be an important part of worship. This is quite lost in our large theatre-style worship, common in modern cities. In the Cathedral, because of back-to-back services, worshippers have to "clear the pews” quickly. This means that post-service chatter (“Hi, Tony. Let me introduce a friend...”) or ministry to each other is not possible.
If there is post-service refreshments, the service continued as the congregation moves to another location to "eat, meet and greet". We are introduced to guests.
We find out that a member is going through some health difficulties. We chat about the sermon and learn further from it. Where people meet, ministry will happen. And over time, the congregation becomes a community.
This is the same thinking behind the setting up of the cafe. It extends further the blessing of community, permitting people to gather on all days of the week.
I could go on and on about the blessings of community. When it comes to worship, there is a time to be alone. Just as we are before God. But there is also a time to commune. For the other can often reveal so much about me. I need the other.
I leave you with some memorable words from Dietrich Bonhoeffer:
“Let him who cannot be alone beware of community... Let him who is not in community beware of being alone... Each by itself has profound perils and pitfalls. One who wants fellowship without solitude plunges into the void of words and feelings, and the one who seeks solitude without fellowship perishes in the abyss of vanity, self-infatuation and despair.”
― in Life Together: The Classic Exploration of Faith in Community