The Dean - The Very Revd Andrew Nunn
Isaiah 46.3-13; Romans 12.1-8
There have been so many casualties during this pandemic, individual and community – some deeply significant and others, well, less significant
One of the things that we’ve not been able to enjoy during these past months is a real feature of the life of the Church of England – though I suspect of other churches as well – the Bring and Share Supper. These happen on loads of occasions – the arrival of a new vicar, when the Bishop comes on a visit, following Confirmation Services, major occasions in the year – the reasons for a Bring & Share Supper in the CofE are endless.
The call goes out in the notices – ‘We’re going to have a Bring & Share Supper - please have a word with Fred or Gladys or Ayo after the service – they’re coordinating it for us.’
The notion of coordination is, of course, a good one. Without it there’d be mayhem – too much quiche, too many pieces of fried chicken, too many sausage rolls and not enough cake. In my vast experience of Bring & Share suppers in the Church of England – and it is vast - I can tell you that coordination is rarely effective. There’s always too much quiche and too many sausage rolls. Clergy have a name for the meal that emerges – beige food – if you can wrap it in pastry then it’s good for us, though even though we may moan about it the clergy tend to be first at the table to enjoy it.
The other problem of course is that everyone brings far too much – so instead of one quiche two, instead of 12 sausage rolls 24, instead of one batch of Yum Yums or Puff Puffs at least two. It’s a sign of our sheer generosity, of course, but is a nightmare in the parish kitchen afterwards and for about a month afterwards in the Vicar’s fridge!
In his letter to the Christians in Rome Paul asks the question, in a round about way, ‘What are you bringing to the table?’ Of course, he isn’t asking about some first century bring and share meal but about the life of the church. What do we bring? What do you bring? And in answer to the question that lies behind what he writes he says this
We have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us.
Then he goes on to list the various giftings that God ensures in his church – prophecy, ministry, teaching, exhortation; generosity, leading, compassion, cheerfulness. These are the things that God wants to ensure that the church has, and has in the right proportions. It’s no good if we’re all prophets and there’s no leadership, no good if we’re all exhorters and there’s no cheerfulness, no good if it’s all savoury and nothing sweet on the table.
So what do you bring to the party, what do you bring to the table? What is the gifting that God has given to you? What grace has been poured into your heart and manifests itself in your life? We may be surprised at the answer if we really give it some consideration.