Chile Rellenos, Mac N’ Cheese and Community that Matters

30 After he took his seat at the table with them, he took the bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. 31 Their eyes were opened and they recognized him.
Luke 24:30-31a

This past Sunday we gathered together again as we prepare to launch The Harvest Table (first service is September 16th at 5pm!) to sing, read scripture and spend time growing together in small groups as we build this new worshipping community here at Heritage.  Each week at the Harvest Table we plan to feed people – to feed people with Christ’s abundant grace at the Lord’s Supper in worship and then to feed people with Christ’s abundant love in fellowship at our community meals that will take place after worship each week.

Thinking about all that food has gotten me thinking about meals that have been important to me in my life and it took me back to my days in San Antonio, TX, where I worked at a small, bilingual Presbyterian Church on the inner west-side of of the city.  I ran a youth program there called the House of Teens, through which I got to work with an incredible group of mothers of youth in the neighborhood who were so committed to our community and their children.  They were also committed to one another.

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Some of those incredible moms, serving up dinner at one of our weekly Teen Night events!

If someone had a crisis, that they couldn’t financially handle on their own, the women would band together and plan a plate sale – and not just any plate sale – a chile relleno plate sale.  They chose the chile relleno for their main entree because it is not a dish many people just made for themselves at home on a weekday night.  It was a specialty dish, that was well loved and labor intensive – which meant it would sell well.

One mom would volunteer to buy the poblano peppers, another would offer to make a pot of beans, someone else would make rice, someone else the homemade salsa.  There would be donations of meat and cheese that would come in, someone would make a big batch of homemade salsa, and someone else would get the corn tortillas.  Then we would all gather together in one of our church’s kitchens starting early in the morning and we would begin the work of prepping chiles, cooking meat, cutting cheese, stuffing, battering, and frying, as the pots of beans and rice would arrive having been cooked at home.

It would be hot, and the work plenty, but so was the laughter, the fun and the love as a group of women put together their resources to be able to help a sister in need in a powerful way.  After 100’s of plates would go out the building at lunch time, we would gather around with our own styrofoam containers in hand, and share in a meal together – enjoying food cooked with so much love, one another’s company, and the joy felt when grace and provision flow in abundance – and somewhere in the middle of all that goodness, Christ’s presence was made known and like those disciples long ago we recognized him.

The only picture of one of those chile rellenos I have from those years.  This one is buried under sauce on a plate full of food that was served at my ordination, which took place four years after I left House of Teens for seminary.  Those same moms made a whole passel of chile rellenos to help me celebrate that day, because they knew they were my favorite.  It was another meaningful meal to remember.

This past Sunday, I asked the people gathered to share in small groups about a meal that had been memorable, meaningful to them.  Can you think of one?  A meal you enjoyed, a table at which you too had the chance to glimpse the presence of Christ?

Kim McDade, our illustrious and talented cook, is answering the call God put upon her heart to serve by planning and preparing our Harvest Table meals.  Sunday, she dished up Macaroni and Cheese (the good stuff) and corn bread with a chocolate drizzled brownie for dessert – all of it made at home with a whole lot of love.  As we gathered around tables, I had to think that maybe this too would be a meal to remember.

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On Sunday evenings we are building a community much like the one I experienced in San Antonio –  like the one we have built on Sunday mornings that has blessed my family and I’s life since we came to Heritage over 7 years ago – a community where people care deeply for one another, where we are all working together to make the lives of one another and the corner of the world God has called us to better than it was before, where the abundant grace of our Lord Jesus Christ flows and changes and transforms us all.

Youth Group Selfie after that awesome dinner!  Love these youth and the community we are building together!
Some of our parents enjoying a fun game together and some fellowship time after dinner, while their kiddos were at youth group!




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