FOOD FOR THE SOUL
(Reflections on Food through our Bilingual English/Arabic Mass) January 29, 2020
Food is a gateway to the soul. If people are hungry, they will come. And, when they come it provides the opportunity to share “food from heaven”. About three years ago, I opened the sanctuary on a hot day. People were standing in the hot sun, and I invited them into the church, which is air conditioned. The Chaldean community can be very loud, but when they walked into the church, they became very and respectful. They did not realize that the church was connected to the food pantry. Whoops!
Folks started hanging around inside, praying or sitting quietly. Then they asked if I could do a service for them. I explained that I am not Roman Catholic. They wanted to know what the difference was. I told them that for one thing I am married. They told me that their priests get married in Iraq. Then I told them that we do not have a pope, but we do have a presiding bishop and local bishops. They explained that they too had their own priests, deacons, bishops and arch deacon’s, all Chaldean.
The Chaldeans we serve are mostly Roman Catholic, and they are also Eastern Rite in tradition. So, I asked a Chaldean priest about serving communion. He said for him it was perfectly fine. I told them that I would do communion, but I am not Roman Catholic. I now know that not all of them are RC either. They use the word Chaldean because that means Christian. Chaldean’s prefer not to be called Iraqi because that in their minds means Muslim. Since that first Holy Communion service we have held the service before the pantry opens every first and third Tuesday. We do a bilingual English/Arabic service and we average between 25-50 people in service. After communion we invite anyone that wants to come forward for anointing oil and a prayer of healing or blessing, and everyone lines up. It’s amazing to experience and be a part of. During communion they sing songs in Aramaic.
Kind of cool, huh?
Welcome Church Offering Time Liturgy
January 1, 2020
It’s Welcome Church ‘offering time’, but we have a slightly different focus. Please think about what you have to offer; offer to God, to the community, to the world, maybe to yourself? Take time to really think about this, and ask yourself: What is it I can offer? Who can I offer it to? Am I willing to offer it? If you are willing, when the basket of stones comes around, please take one. Use it as a reminder of what you have committed to do; to make an ‘offering’ of what has been given to you. Put it where you will see it, or put it where you will feel it, in the pocket of your jeans, jacket or special secure place that you view often. When you see it, or touch it, let it remind you that you are special, you have something to offer. And then, do it. If you’d like to share out loud what you have decided to give as your ‘offering’, please feel free to say it. If you would rather not share out loud, feel free not too. Let’s take a minute or 2 to identify our ‘offering’, either aloud or silently.
(after a minute of sharing or silence) ‘Thank you, God, for all the gifts and offerings that have been given those here today in our gathering. Thank you that each of us has something special to offer. Help us to share these gifts and offerings freely. Amen’
Liturgy is a Rule of Life
December 4, 2019
Liturgy is defined as “the work of the people”. It is also liturgy that is part of a worship service, but at Welcome Church of El Cajon, we look at liturgy as a rule of life, the way we go about the daily routine of living out our daily lives. That includes work, and it might include traveling from one safe place to camp to another, or it may be assisting people with their laundry as we do weekly with “Loads of Love” Tuesday laundry day. We allow anyone to come and enjoy fellowship and company while they do their laundry on our nickel. We look at this as part of our liturgical worship, loving God and loving others.
One of our customs is to walk through Wells Park on a Saturday afternoon and invite people to Welcome Church that meets in the park the following Sunday. We call it a walkabout carrying with us little bags of what we have coined, Coffee Breaks Without the Coffee. It’s an icebreaker, and rarely does anybody turn us down. It’s amazing how a cookie with applesauce or pudding and a plastic spoon opens the way to a good discussion. Some of the people do join us the next day, but many do not. What we have discovered is relationships that have developed outside of the Welcome Church family. The Welcome Church is a Church Without Walls, and the folks we share stories, pray with and assist in holistic ways is a part of the Church beyond the normal routine of a Church Without Walls. Our job is to share the love of Jesus with others,
wherever we meet them, and that includes those that never come to a Welcome Church meeting. After all, liturgy is called the “work of the people”, and that includes fearless love evangelism.
We do not take monetary offerings during our worship services, but I think we should begin an offering time. We can ask people at offering time, if there is something they would like to offer, either a way to encourage someone else or an encouraging word to share during service or a thanksgiving they want to share. We can encourage creative ideas and practical ways of offering our time and talents. Resources are important, but resources, slim as they may be, can be shared with others.
We have had people that have moved away from the Wells Park area. Some have found housing, and it’s not always in the area, and sometimes cars are out of service. We have a van, I guess you could call it our church bus, and we try to give rides to people if they are still in the area. We consider this as part of worship, loving God and loving others.