Reflections on eating with ‘the other’ – themes from Acts 11

With whom do you most want to sit down and share a meal? And with whom would you prefer not to eat? What do you experience when you eat with ‘others’ … with strangers or people considered ‘unacceptable’ … until love recognizes them? What do you receive and what do you give away? — Rev Gail

Bowls of Food (excerpt) — Rumi

Moon and evening star
do their slow tambourine dance
to praise this universe.
The purpose of every gathering is discovered:
to recognize beauty and love what’s beautiful.
“Once it was like that, now it’s like this,”
the saying goes around town,
and serious consequences too. …
Go outside to the orchard.
These visitors came a long way,
past all the houses of the zodiac,
learning something new at each stop.
And they’re here for such a short time,
sitting at these tables set on the prow of the wind.
Bowls of food are brought out as answers,
but still no one knows the answer.
Food for the soul stays secret.
Body food gets put out in the open like us.
Those who work at a bakery don’t know the taste of bread
like the hungry beggars do.
Because the beloved wants to know,
unseen things become manifest …

Invite a few friends and perhaps even strangers to join you in sharing a feast of love. You might prepare a simple meal or invite each person to bring a dish. The focus is not on the food itself, but the act of sharing that food in the presence of each other. Eat mindfully, slowly, with plenty of time for conversation, listening, and laughter. You might also sing songs or read poetry of gratitude or talk about how you are experiencing God in your lives. However you practice an agape feast, let it flow as naturally as your very hunger and fulfillment. Be aware of God’s presence within each person and be thankful for the food that makes life possible and the love that makes life meaningful. — Richard Rohr

Eating Together: Acts of Community

We should look for someone to eat and drink with before looking for something to eat and drink. To eat and drink without a friend is to devour like the lion and the wolf. ― Epicurus

Cumulatively, the work of food memoirists, bloggers, investigative journalists, chefs, and film makers have made it increasingly obvious for the average American that food is a practical means through which we may interpret our world, and that it is loaded with meaning. — Cecily Hill

A successful dinner is one that lasts a while and one where everyone leaves happy. It’s a meal where we didn’t just wolf food down, rather something else happened at the table. That is the goal. — Laurie David

… in the midst of grief, all anyone can really do is be with us and make some casseroles. See my wounds. I’m here. Don’t be afraid. Let’s eat. And this is what we get to do for each other, as well. This is what we get to do for the world God loves so madly. — Nadia Bolz-Weber

Sharing a meal together is not just to sustain our bodies and celebrate life’s wonders, but also to experience freedom, joy, and the happiness of brotherhood and sisterhood, during the whole time of eating. — Thich Nhat Hanh

Jesus’ most consistent social action was eating in new ways and with new people, encountering those who were oppressed or excluded from the system. A great number of Jesus’ healings and exorcisms take place while he’s entering or leaving a house for a meal. In the process he redefines power and the kingdom of God. — Richard Rohr

From an evolutionary anthropology perspective, eating together has a long, primal tradition as a kind of social glue. That seems to continue in today’s workplaces. — Kevin Kniffin, Charles H. Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management

In a big transient city … most people rent, and renting often sees a high turnover of faces, places and neighbourhoods which means that despite best efforts, it is sometimes hard to connect with the community. We all know the benefits of a strong community and friendly neighbourhood but often we don’t know how to engage or start the conversation, There’s something about the act of eating with someone, I think you can get past that basic conversation because you’re doing some kind of activity — cooking, drinking or preparing food — that allows people to open up a little more. — Bethany Jones

Strange to see how a good dinner and feasting reconciles everybody. — Samuel Pepys

Approach love and cooking with reckless abandon. — Dalai Lama

Americans are just beginning to regard food the way the French always have. Dinner is not what you do in the evening before something else. Dinner is the evening. — Art Buchwald

Dinners are defined as the ultimate act of communion; men that can have communion in nothing else, can sympathetically eat together, can still rise into some glow of brotherhood over food and wine.  — Thomas Carlyle

The dinner table is the center for the teaching and practicing not just of table manners but of conversation, consideration, tolerance, family feeling …  — Judith Martin

Rules about food consumption are an important means through which humans construct reality. They are an allegory of social concerns, a way in which people give order to the physical, social, and symbolic world around them. — Carole Counihan

Being Present to the Other

If [we are] to survive, [we] will have learned to take a delight in the essential differences between [us] and between cultures. [We] will learn that differences in ideas and attitudes are a delight, part of life’s exciting variety, not something to fear. — Gene Roddenberry

[The one] who is different from me does not impoverish me – [but] enriches me. Our unity is constituted in something higher than ourselves – in [humankind] … For no [one] seeks to hear [one’s] own echo, or to find [one’s] reflection in the glass. — Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

I remember one night at Muzdalifa with nothing but the sky overhead I lay awake amid sleeping Muslim brothers and I learned that pilgrims from every land–every color, and class, and rank; high officials and the beggar alike–all snored in the same language. — Malcolm X

It is never too late to give up your prejudices. — Henry David Thoreau

Oh God, the terrible tyranny of the majority. We all have our harps to play. And it’s up to you to know with which ear you’ll listen. — Ray Bradbury

Christian, Jew, Muslim, shaman, Zoroastrian, stone, ground, mountain, river, each has a secret way of being with the mystery, unique and not to be judged. — Rumi


Plum Village ‘Eating Together’ —Thich Nhat Hanh

Eating a meal together is a meditative practice. We should try to offer our presence for every meal. As we serve our food we can already begin practicing. Serving ourselves, we realize that many elements, such as the rain, sunshine, earth, air and love, have all come together to form this wonderful meal. In fact, through this food we see that the entire universe is supporting our existence.
We are aware of the whole sangha as we serve ourselves and we should take an amount of food that is good for us. Before eating, the bell will be invited for three sounds and we can enjoy breathing in and out while practicing the five contemplations.

  1. This food is a gift of the earth, the sky, numerous living beings, and much hard and loving work.
  2. May we eat with mindfulness and gratitude so as to be worthy to receive this food.
  3. May we recognise and transform unwholesome mental formations, especially our greed and learn to eat with moderation
  4. May we keep our compassion alive by eating in such a way that reduces the suffering of living beings, stops contributing to climate change, and heals and preserves our precious planet.
  5. We accept this food so that we may nurture our brotherhood and sisterhood, build our Sangha, and nourish our ideal of serving all living beings.

THIS WEEK at Jackson Community Church and Around Town: May 14-19

Highlights @ JCC: Tue – Pease Stocking Cutting Party & Daisy Scouts, Wed – Council Mtg, Thurs – Yoga, AA, Fri – Pastor’s Hours & Wedding Rehearsal, Sat – Wedding, Sun – Youth & Family Program & Choir Rehearsal & Worship & Way Station Volunteer Training. Around Town: Tue – Book Group (Library), Wed – Monitoring Reptiles (Tin Mtn), Thurs – Age-Friendly Community Task Force (Gibson Ctr) & Storytime for Toddlers (Library), Sat – Birding (Brownfield Bog) & Spring Celebration (Tin Mtn) & Boxcar Lilies Concert (Mountain Top Music – Hales Location pvt home), Sun – Way Station Volunteer Training (Nativity Lutheran campus)

TUE, May 14

  • PEASE GREETERS STOCKING PROJECT
    9:30am • Jackson Community Church
    Cutting party. Bring sharp sewing or craft scissors if you have them and join the Missions team to cut pieces for the Christmas Stocking project. Our church makes the stockings filled for returning military service personnel at Pease Air Force Base.
  • UCC Event: NORTH COUNTRY ASSOCIATION CLERGY LUNCH & COMMITTEE on MINISTRY MTG
    11:30am • J’s Restaurant @ Gorham, NH
    1pm • Congregational Church, Gorham, NH
  • CLERGY GROUP
    12:30pm • No Conway
    Clergy group gathers for lunch and colleagial work.
  • DAISY SCOUTS
    2:45-4:30pm • Parish House, Jackson Community Church
  • Community Event: LIBRARY BOOK GROUP
    4:30pm • Jackson Public Library
    The monthly Adult Book Group discusses Station Eleven.

WED, May 15

  • COUNCIL MEETING
    7-8:30pm • Church Library, 2nd Floor
    Church staff, officers and team representatives meet to review budget and make administrative decisions to support mission and operations of church. Meeting is open to the public.
  • Community Event: MONITORING REPTILES & AMPHIBIANS in NH
    7pm • Nature Learning Center, Tin Mountain Conservation Center, Albany
    Come learn about the state’s herptile population and the NH Reptile and Amphibian Reporting Program (RAARP). Melissa Doperalski of NH Fish & Game will present on how the program works and how you can help contribute. More info.

THURS, May 16

  • Community Event: AGE-FRIENDLY COMMUNITY TASK FORCE UPDATE
    9-11am • Gibson Senior Center, No Conway
    Meeting for next steps re implementation of recommended projects developed by Steering Committee.
  • BLISS YOGA with Anjali Rose
    9am • First Floor, Parish House / Jackson Community Church. Beginning stretch, flow and align yoga; safe for new practitioners. Weather dependent; if schools are delayed or closed, the class will be cancelled.
  • Community Event: STORYTIME for TODDLERS
    10:30am • Jackson Public Library
  • AA
    6:30pm • Second Floor, Church

FRI, May 17

  • PASTOR’S DROP-IN HOURS @ JTOWN
    7-9am • JTown Deli, Jackson
    Come by to visit with Rev Gail or text/call to make a separate date: 978.273.0308.
  • PASTORAL HOURS
    9:30-11:30am • Second Floor, Church
    Come by to visit with Rev Gail or call to make a separate date: 978.273.0308.
  • Private Event: WEDDING REHEARSAL
    4-6pm • Jackson Community Church

SAT, May 18

  • Private Event: WEDDING
    1pm • Jackson Community Church
    Rev Gail officiates.
  • Community Event: BIRDING at BROWNFIELD BOG (Tin Mountain Conservation Center program)
    7-10am • Meet at G&S Store in Brownfield, Maine
    Join birders of all levels on this weekly bird walk through the bog and view the rich diversity of bird life that makes it way north to rest or nest. Bring binoculars (or borrow ours), rubber boots, and a snack. Our final week will be via canoe!
  • Community Event: FAMILY SPRING CELEBRATION
    10am-Noon • Nature Learning Center, Tin Mountain Conservation Center, Albany
    Come celebrate the return of warm weather, new growth, and mud! Join us for a morning of insect and amphibian exploration, nature walks, crafts and stories. Our spring family celebration is open to all, but geared toward families with children 5 and under. More info.
  • Community Event: BOXCAR LILIES HOME CONCERT (Mountain Top Music event)
    7:30pm • Hales Location Private Home
    Mountain Top Music presents a bluegrass and country charm with spine-tingling harmony and exceptional songwriting. At a gorgeous home at the very top of Hales Location. Directions will be emailed the Thursday before the concert. ($35/person). Link for tickets and more info.

SUN, May 19

  • INTERFAITH GATHERING
    8am • Gazeboby Jackson Historical Society
  • YOUTH & FAMILY 
    Come dressed for outdoor games or hike. RSVP Rev Gail if you plan to attend.
  • CHOIR REHEARSAL
    Ellen Schwindt will work with choir for same-day performance.
  • WORSHIP 
    10:30am • Jackson Community Church
    * Organ/piano by Alan Labrie
    * Worship leadership & message by Rev Gail Doktor
    * Choir with Ellen Schwindt
  • Community Event: WAY STATION VOLUNTEER TRAINING
    2-5pm • Way Station/15 Grove St, No Conway. Starts in Admin Building/Nativity Lutheran Campus.
    NH Listens facilitator from Carsey School of Public Policy, UNH, provides inetractive training to educate volunteers about issues facing homeless/housing-insecure guests. Rev Gail attends. RSVP if planning to attend this training.

Reflections on matriarchs and mothers

We are born of love; Love is our mother.
— Rumi

To My Mother (excerpt) — Edgar Allan Poe
Because I feel that, in the Heavens above,
The angels, whispering to one another,
Can find, among their burning terms of love,
None so devotional as that of “Mother,”
Therefore by that dear name I long have called you—
You who are more than mother unto me,
And fill my heart of hearts …

What’s Going On? (song excerpt)— 
Alfred W Cleveland / Marvin P Gaye / Renaldo Benson
link to music video
Mother, mother
There’s too many of you crying
Brother, brother, brother
There’s far too many of you dying
You know we’ve got to find a way
To bring some lovin’ here today, eheh  …
For only love can conquer hate
You know we’ve got to find a way
To bring some lovin’ here today, oh oh oh … Mother, mother, everybody thinks we’re wrong
Oh, but who are they to judge us
… Oh, you know we’ve got to find a way
To bring some understanding here today, Oh oh oh

Of Mothers & Matriarchs

Mother is the name for God in the lips and hearts of little children. — William Makepeace Thackeray

The chain connecting mother to daughter was broken and the world passed to the keeping of men, who had no way of knowing. ― Anita Diamant

… give them to all the people who helped mother our children. … I don’t want something special. I want something beautifully plain. Like everything else, it can fill me only if it is ordinary and available to all. — Anne Lamott

Our images of God, then, must be inclusive because God is not mother, no, but God is not father either. God is neither male nor female. God is pure spirit, pure being, pure life — both of them. Male and female, in us all. — Joan Chittister

We are braver and wiser because they existed, those strong women and strong men… We are who we are because they were who they were. It’s wise to know where you come from, who called your name. — Maya Angelou

Motherhood: All love begins and ends there. — Robert Browning

Mama was my greatest teacher, a teacher of compassion, love and fearlessness. If love is sweet as a flower, then my mother is that sweet flower of love. — Stevie Wonder

The love of a mother is the veil of a softer light between the heart and the heavenly Father. — Samuel Taylor Coleridge

A mother’s happiness is like a beacon, lighting up the future but reflected also on the past in the guise of fond memories. – Honore de Balzac

I remember my mother’s prayers and they have always followed me. They have clung to me all my life. — Abraham Lincoln

Life began with waking up and loving my mother’s face. — George Eliot

For when a child is born the mother also is born again.—  Gilbert Parker

With what price we pay for the glory of motherhood. — Isadora Duncan

My dear Mama, you are definitely the hen who hatched a famous duck. — Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec

It may be possible to gild pure gold, but who can make his mother more beautiful? — Mahatma Gandhi

God could not be everywhere, and therefore he made mothers. — Rudyard Kipling

Mother and Child Louise Glück

We’re all dreamers; we don’t know who we are.

Some machine made us; machine of the world, the constricting family.
Then back to the world, polished by soft whips.

We dream; we don’t remember.

Machine of the family: dark fur, forests of the mother’s body.
Machine of the mother: white city inside her.

And before that: earth and water.
Moss between rocks, pieces of leaves and grass.

And before, cells in a great darkness.
And before that, the veiled world.

This is why you were born: to silence me.
Cells of my mother and father, it is your turn
to be pivotal, to be the masterpiece.

I improvised; I never remembered.
Now it’s your turn to be driven;
you’re the one who demands to know:

Why do I suffer? Why am I ignorant?
Cells in a great darkness. Some machine made us;
it is your turn to address it, to go back asking
what am I for? What am I for?


God as Creator: Source Code of Grace (excerpt from longer sermon)— Nadia Bolz-Weber

In the beginning, all there was, was God. So in order to bring the world into being, God had to kind of scoot over. So God chose to take up less space—you know, to make room. So before God spoke the world into being, God scooted over. God wanted to share. Like the kind-faced woman on the subway who takes her handbag onto her lap so that there’s room for you to sit next to her. She didn’t have to do it, but that’s just who she is . . . the kind-faced subway lady’s nature is that she makes room for others.

Then God had an absolute explosion of creativity and made animals. Amoebas. Chickens. Crickets. Bees. Orangutans.

Then God said, “Let us create humans in our own image and likeness.” Let us. So, God the community, God the family, God the friend group, God the opposite of isolation, said, “Let us create humanity in our image and likeness. Let there be us and them in one being.”

So God created every one of us in the male and female image of God. Then God gave us God’s own image —something so holy that it could never be harmed, and never be taken away. A never-aloneness. An origin and destination. A source code of grace.

THIS WEEK at Jackson Community Church and Around Town

TUE, May 7 – SUN, May 12

TUE, May 7

  • WAY STATION LEADERSHIP MTG
    11am • Way Station / Nativity Lutheran Church, No Conway
    Planning meeting for next steps to prep for opening of facility.
  • CLERGY GROUP
    12:30pm • Center Conway
    Clergy group gathers for lunch and colleagial work. Rev Gail attends.
  • DAISY SCOUTS
    2:45-4:30pm • Parish House, Jackson Community Church

WED, May 8

  • PASTOR’S HOURS
    7-8am • J-Town Deli
    Come for caffeine, good food, and conversation.
  • Community Event: BREWING in NH
    8:30pm • Jackson Public Library
    Glenn Knoblock explores the fascinating history of New Hampshire’s beer and ale brewing industry from Colonial days, when it was home- and tavern-based, to today’s modern breweries and brew pubs. More info.

THURS, May 9

  • BLISS YOGA with Anjali Rose
    9am • First Floor, Parish House / Jackson Community Church. Beginning stretch, flow and align yoga; safe for new practitioners. Weather dependent; if schools are delayed or closed, the class will be cancelled.
  • Community Event: ECOFORUM – SMARTPHONE CITIZEN SCIENCE in the MOUNTAINS
    Noon • Nature Learning Center, Tin Mountain Conservation Center, Albany
    Do you take photos with your phone when out on the trails? Turn your mobile device into a reporting tool with iNaturalist and join other citizen scientists by documenting the flowering plants you observe on your next hike. By participating you can contribute to AMC’s Mountain Watch study. Join AMC staff science, Georgia Murray and Annie Evankow to learn more about the program, the results and how you can participate.
  • AA
    6:30pm • Second Floor, Church
  • Community Event: CROWS and their WINTER ROOSTS
    7pm • Nature Learning Center, Tin Mountain Conservation Center, Albany
    Crows are intelligent and adaptable birds. Dana and Bob Fox will share what they have learned about 25,000 wintering crows over two years through detailed observation and much reading.  They will share what crows do, don’t do and how they change their minds.

FRI, May 10

  • PASTORAL HOURS
    9:30-11:30am • Second Floor, Church
    Come by to visit with Rev Gail or call to make a separate date: 978.273.0308.

SAT, May 11

  • CHURCH SPRING CLEAN UP DAY
    9am-Noon • Jackson Community Church
    Wear work clothes, close-toed shoes or boots, bring work gloves, buckets, rakes, brooms, rags. Plan to work indoors or outdoors to clean up the grounds and interior of the church.
  • Community Event: BIRDING at BROWNFIELD BOG (Tin Mountain Conservation Center program)
    7-10am • Meet at G&S Store in Brownfield, Maine
    Join birders of all levels on this weekly bird walk through the bog and view the rich diversity of bird life that makes it way north to rest or nest. Bring binoculars (or borrow ours), rubber boots, and a snack. Our final week will be via canoe!

SUN, May 12

  • INTERFAITH GATHERING
    8am • Gazebo by Jackson Historical Society
  • YOUTH & FAMILY
    Come dressed for outdoor games or hike. RSVP Rev Gail if you plan to attend.
  • MOTHER’s DAY WORSHIP
    10:30am • Jackson Community Church
    * Organ/piano by Alan Labrie
    * Worship leadership by Rev Gail Doktor
    * Message by Tish Hanlon