In churches we notice how people’s worship habits are changing. But have you noticed how other habits are changing as well? The week after Portland, Maine was named Bon Appetit magazine’s top restaurant city of 2018 I caught the end of a radio call in show talk with Maine food writers, producers, and chefs. The places they were all planning to eat out that week were in Brunswick, where the northern edge of Portland influenced Southern Maine overlaps the Midcoast’s fishing and farmland.
Jeff and I live right across the river from Brunswick and are well acquainted with the eating options. We eat out A LOT more than I did as a kid and there are many more options. Back then, a monthly pizza was a huge treat as was an annual trip to Tony’s Clam Shack on Wollaston Beach when we vacationed at Grandma’s. But now eating out fits our full work schedules and interest in new experiences of others’ expertise and creativity. Choosing where we eat is often governed by convenience or curiosity, unlike the homecooked meals we shared when raising our children. At the same time, we are having to pay new attention to nutritional needs at this stage of life.
It’s interesting to me that CSAs (Community Supported Agriculture) are growing at the same time restaurants are, handing us bags of locally grown veggies, fruit, meat, flowers, or even seafood. High end and low end are both lining up beside the old -fashioned weekly trip to the grocery store. Consumers want convenient, fresh, sustainable, delicious. What might that tell us about worship that would touch the hearts of our neighbors?
Similarly, work patterns have changed. Once most people had something like a 9-5, Monday-Friday schedule. Occasionally emergencies or special occasions might have cropped up, but unless you were in the military, the ministry, or some medical fields, you could predict what your weekend would look like. Now, the whole notion of a “weekend” seems to be growing nebulous. Does the workweek ever end when we are working across multiple time zones and communication devices? Flex scheduling in workplaces means people’s work schedules may be up in the air until just before they’re expected to show up.
Most families are spread out now. Jeff and I have reached the point where we need to carefully plan and balance holiday trips to children and grandchildren in three far flung locations. Instead of Christmas worship at our home church, we seek it out where we find ourselves. Hmm, a little like searching out a new restaurant.
Even our recreational lives often demand higher commitments now. Travel leagues, expectations of excellence, and training schedules block off some of our more predictable time commitments. With crazy schedules meals get squeezed in, grabbed on the go, or pulled from a freezer.
No wonder people are increasingly hungry for soul food and for community connections.
There’s no magic formula for how these changes in our lives may reshape the ways we worship and grow as Jesus followers, except to say that following Jesus requires a new level of intention and commitment. And maybe of curiosity as well. Ask someone what they’re hungry for this week. And share whatever is on your menu. Meanwhile, look what God dropped into our flower bed! Surprise seeds produced these almost ready to pick nutritious treats where we least expected them. Keep your eyes open for manna from heaven!
In God’s Grace, Karen
Karen L Munson
A pastor and artist, I'm wondering while I'm wandering through God's marvelous creation.