A NEW FRONTIER FOR TABLE TALK – GROUP VIDEO CHATS!
May 21, 2020
Just as Welcome Ministry’s Table Talk twice-weekly English Conversation Coffee Hour was beginning its third year, everything changed. Things were going well. We’d added more native English speakers as discussion leaders. The number of English learners at each session had been gradually swelling to as much 18 participants some weeks. And, most encouraging of all, the women, many who had been with us from the start, were showing remarkable progress, both in their English conversation skills, and in their confidence to use them.
An added gift, one that we’d not expected when we first started just after Easter 2018, was the deep and loving relationships that had been forged among our English learners and our English speakers, and between the women themselves. Women from different countries: Iraq, Palestine, Jordan, Lebanon, the U.S., Hong Kong; and women of different faith traditions: Chaldean Catholics, Muslims, Eastern Orthodox, Anglicans, Lutherans, Roman Catholics, and no church affiliation. We had become sisters, in the deepest sense of the word. We all looked forward to gathering each week, sharing our special dishes, playing our silly word games, reading fairy tales together, sharing our lives.
Then the pandemic, the stay at home order. Things ground to a halt. A few phone calls, which were always precious, always beginning with,“I miss you!” Then after Easter the idea of small group video chats started to take hold. Using Google Duo and Face Time we could gather two, three, or four at a time to not just talk, but see one another. What a blessing! The “ladies” were all in.
We’re novices with this technology, but we keep learning. And we’re growing again. People who had been interested in Table Talk, but who cannot come to St. Albans physically on a Wednesday or Friday morning, can now join a virtual chat – new English-speaking leaders and English learners alike. Not without the occasional glitch, but we cheerfully muddle through. And we are so happy to be together again. Let us know if you think you might like to join us – we’re always looking for new partners. Send us an email expressing your interest to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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’