“I could not tell who the First Baptist congregation members were and who were the guests invited for dinner,” were words shared by a visitor of our first Agape meal. It was the biggest compliment I could have heard about our meal. The idea of the Agape meal was to invite people into our church who are hungry and serve them dinner as if we had invited them into our own homes and around our dinner table. The atmosphere was casual, with lots of conversation happening around the tables. Everyone’s guard was down and honest conversation about who we are, our hopes, our upbringing, and our disappointments were taking place.
Greensboro has some amazing soup-style kitchens where people in our community who are hungry get served a healthy meal by thoughtful people. The one thing I feel that is missing in a soup-style serving of meals is mutuality. The vision of this dinner was to sit together at a table and eat together. In the book, Friendship at the Margins we are reminded, “We tend to eat with people we like and with people who like us. But shared meals break down social boundaries. All of us need to eat, and when we break bread together we embody our solidarity and common humanity.” Mutuality at its best is common humanity.
We are a church who is trying to get past the idea that we are always the giver, always offering to the one receiving. Our approach this time was that all of us at the table have something to give and something to receive. We each have the spirit to offer lively conversation, a hearing ear, and heartfelt encouragement. Someone described this meal as a “kingdom meal,” and I tend to agree. Jesus set the table before many others; his disciples, friends, guests, Pharisee’s, and enemies, while offering the gentle reminder that the table is a place for all of God’s people. The “kingdom meal” is the table where the Holy Spirit and mutuality intersect.
Kim Priddy – Associate Pastor of Missions