When I was a little girl I loved The Little House on the Prairie series by Laura Ingalls Wilder. Oddly, some of my favorite parts of these books were the descriptions of nineteenth century food. The vivid way Ingalls Wilder described buttery pieces of stewed pumpkin, slow roasted venison, and maple sugar candy made my mouth water for things I had never even tasted. In my own family, we did a lot of eating together as well. It was one of the few things we all enjoyed. My mother cooked simple but delicious meals and we all sat down together most nights (which I gather is becoming more and more unusual). After dinner, my dad would usually build a big fire in the living room and I would lie by the fire eating a bowl of ice cream and reading. Those are some of my favorite memories of growing up.
On Sundays we almost always went to church. I don’t remember much of it except that I often used to count the arms of the brass chandeliers overhead. On some days trays were passed down the pew with cubes of bread and tiny cups of juice. I wasn’t sure why we did that but I thought it was cool that there were little holders for the cups in every pew. There is one particular Sunday that has always stuck in my mind though. It was the day we got to walk up to a big table in the front instead of having bread and juice in our pews. The table was piled high with green and red grapes and all different kinds of breads. Each of us received a napkin and were instructed to take as much as we wanted. I can still remember eating the grapes and pumpkin bread back in my pew. Church had never been so delicious.
I tell you these memories from my childhood to remind us of the way children experience the world. They are hungry little creatures searching high and low for stories and experiences that can help them make sense of the world. They use their eyes, their fingers, their ears and their mouths to explore things long before they can talk or read. But to tell you the truth, even though I am an adult now, I’m not sure I’ve ever really stopped needing to experience the world this way. It’s just the way I’m wired. Sometimes I think I became a preacher so that I didn’t have to be quiet in church anymore. That’s why I am so grateful for the new directions I see Sunday school curricula and worship taking these days, especially for the different ways we are worshiping in this community. I want church to be delicious for all of God’s children like it was for me that day when communion was served in a way I could better understand. Let us trust God to guide us and to use our different gifts and learning styles to make this amazing community even more reflective of God’s inclusive love. Amen.