beautiful spirit, and a book!

For a couple of semesters during college, I attended a nondenominational church that met in an elementary school gym. Our services were dynamic, often with an hour or more of singing—eyes closed, arms high, congregants breaking off in pairs and triads for prayer. It was a young church, made up of mostly students and young families, a cool crowd of folks wearing skinny jeans and hip haircuts.

One Sunday, the priest of a nearby Anglican church came bursting in through the back doors, still clothed in his long robe and stole from the high liturgical service he’d just completed. Tears streamed down his face.

“I only have a few minutes before I have to go back for our second service,” he said in between heavy breaths. “But before I tell you why I’m here, I just have to tell you why I’m crying.

“I left a service down the road where all the leaders are in long robes like mine. We’re singing hymns and speaking the words of liturgy. Our worship doesn’t look much like yours, but when I walked through those doors I was hit with the power of the fact that the Holy Spirit I so tangibly experience in our worship down the road is the exact same Holy Spirit here with you all as well. Isn’t that just beautiful?”

It was over a year before I visited that Anglican Church, I had no idea in that moment that he would one day become my priest, his church my home, his liturgical worship a balm to my questions and fears and concerns.

What stuck with me was his recognition of the Holy Spirit—the same Holy Spirit present in so many places, in so many expressions.

Isn’t that just beautiful?

For the past seven months I have travelled around the country visiting churches that hold their services around food. Some meet in gardens, others in community centers, some in restaurants, church basements, backyards, and art galleries. The churches hold a range of theological viewpoints, a range of beliefs about Communion or how to read scripture or the ways God interacts with the world. Some are mostly young professionals, some made up of retirees, many are proudly intergenerational. They are in small towns and suburbs and in the middle of big cities. They have a variety of denominational affiliations, they range in size from 10-200. Some are vegetarian, some don’t serve alcohol, some cook altogether, and some order food in.

But in every single church, I have walked through the doors and been hit with the power of the fact that the Holy Spirit I so tangibly experience in my worship at Simple Church and at Church of the Cross is the exact same Holy Spirit present at every dinner church as well.

Isn’t that just beautiful?

Last week I signed my very first book contract. I am so excited to share with you all that I am working with Eerdman’s Press to tell the story of these dinner churches and how they embody a theology of eating.

I’ll admit that as a writer who wades in the murky waters between a variety of Christian traditions, who regularly feels the tension between communities that so deeply disagree, I worry that I will soon grow too weary to carry on. I oftentimes ache over the deep divisions among God’s people. But as I’ve travelled the country, dining with pastors and congregants from such varying backgrounds, I’ve been reminded that while we each hold limited understandings of God formed through our differing experiences, the same Holy Spirit is at work drawing us all towards communion with one another and with God every week in the breaking of bread.

Isn’t that just beautiful?


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