Monday, October 04, 2010

Community Kitchens

"[The Lord] cause the grass to grow for the cattle, and plants for people to use, to bring forth food from the earth, and wine to gladden the human heart, oil to make the face shine, and bread to strengthen the human heart." Psalms 104:14-15

It doesn't get much greener than food. Almost every other aspect of our life can be plastic and artificial but to keep our body alive we need food grown from the earth.  Taking care of Earth, caring for creation, and securing our continuing food supply should have a higher priority than the myriad activities that occupy our time, but it often seems to be a maintenance chore that gets in the way of life. Ironic. Time to reflect on where our priorities lie.

Since this is the first Sunday of a new year I'm going to take my theological angle from some creation mythology commented on by Claus Westermann. Judea-Christian attention is focused on the first three chapters of Genesis, with God's creation of the world and our fall through the sin of disobedience, but less focused on the chapter four through eleven side of the story where man is expected to learn how to live in community, and which contains the primeval themes common to all preliterate cultures. The Babylonian creation myth was recited at a New Year's feast to commemorate the renewal of the world, and had the function of preserving the world and giving security to life. It's an existential theme that is still with us.

There is an ancient tradition of moving into the future by reconnecting with our origins. Which brings me to Jesus Christ and how one of the main components of his ministry was the shared meal as a means of finding common ground and building community. The Eucharist in the first few centuries after Christ was a full meal deal with lots of food, wine and conversation. It's how they organized and got things done.

At the end of November I attended a community kitchen workshop put on by the Food Bank. It's a simple concept where a small group of people (6-18) locate a public kitchen in their neighborhood and then get together about once a month to share in the cooking, eating and cleaning up after of a communal meal. There is usually enough made for everybody to take home a meal or two. The total cost is less than ten dollars per person.  My original intention was to gather information for a course on how to "cook frugally" for poor people, but it soon became clear that this would be reinventing the wheel  since there are already so many good resources for this as can be seen at the website.  As the day progressed and I heard more and more stories about the social relation building, and how from this political action emerged, I started thinking of how community kitchens could be used to build communities within our congregation, and that we could also have a lot of fun in the process. So let's talk about this over coffee and cookies.


This was my submission to the church Chronicle for Jan 3rd. It was for the Green Group's page called "Caring For Creation." I was trying for a green message, with a theological slant that would inspire a call for action. Unfortunately nobody wanted to talk about it let alone try and get anything started. I still think that having a food center is one of the best ways of building community groups. Perhaps I will be able to get together a group sometime in the upcoming year.


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