Faith Matters: It’s all about the meal

  • Rev. Christopher Carlisle on the Greenfield Common in Greenfield. May 3, 2018 Recorder Staff/Paul Franz

  • The Rev. Christopher Carlisle on the Greenfield Common in Greenfield, the site of the Cathedral in the Light services, Sundays at 2 p.m. Recorder Staff/Paul Franz

Cathedral in the Light
Friday, May 11, 2018

(Each Saturday, a faith leader in Franklin County offers a personal perspective in this space. To become part of this series, email religion@recorder.com or call 413-772-0261, ext. 265.)

What’s the greatest difference between Sunday morning worship and worship at Cathedral in the Light? If not the sanctuary or the passing sirens, one would have to say it’s the meal. Unlike most “Last Suppers” that usually consist of a wafer and a sip of wine, the road map of the Gospels literally took us to a different “recipe for success.”

A meal was once part and parcel of “Communion” — the two were inextricably entwined. New Testament scholar, John Dominic Crossan notes that in the early Church, hunger was a perpetual human condition rather than a fleeting discomfort. “People seriously thought about heaven as a banquet,” Crossan says. “Wow — with enough food! The Eucharist is a real meal. God comes to us as food. But it wasn’t the theology that came first. It was the food.”

So Cathedral in the Light, which meets every Sunday on the Common at two o’clock, grounds its worship in the ancient tradition of sharing a full-blown meal. As a weekly reminder of the God whence our lives come, this act of sharing a meal serves to recognize our dependence on God, and the sacred hands that prepare it. At our table, the altar is open to all as a reminder no one can be excluded — that by virtue of being a part of God’s creation, everyone is included.

A Cathedral in the Light participant refers to our worship as “God’s picnic.” If it takes a village to raise a child, then it takes a valley to sustain a Cathedral. To date, we have been hosted by an abundance of churches: Saint James and Andrew Episcopal Church; First Congregational Church of Shelburne; Second Congregational Church in Greenfield; Saint John’s Episcopal Church in Ashfield; Ashfield Congregational Church; Saint Paul’s Lutheran Church in Greenfield; United Church of Bernardston; Church of Christ Congregational Church in Granby; First Congregational Church in Hadley; The First Church of Deerfield; The United Congregational Church in Holyoke; Charlemont Federated Church; Missionaries of the Poor; as well as Brownsville Community Church in Vermont, and Faith Lutheran Church in Gardner.

Be part of the picnic

Stone Soup and Sofia’s Pizza have stepped up to the dinner plate. The Recover Project, Salasin Resource Center, and Building Bridges Veterans Initiative have prepared and/or come to serve the meal and be part of the community. So we are inviting city departments to be a part of “the picnic” — in the spirit of a healthy community that depends upon us all, together.

Three sisters who lost their brother to drugs while he was living on the street prepared a banquet and offered prayers in the name of their beloved sibling.

To prepare for his Bar Mitzvah, a boy and his father came to a service one December — bearing hot, baked potatoes wrapped in foil, and delivered in new woolen socks. For anyone who would like to remember a loved one by bringing life to others, preparing a meal in his or her name can be a powerful memorial.

As a truly “poor church,” we need our community to do the work we need to do. “Religion” is changing — perhaps even returning to the outdoor landscape Jesus knew — calling us out into the streets and city squares where everyone is included. With the generous churches and organizations on which we so critically depend, we invite you to consider bringing a meal, and being a part of the picnic.

If so, you are welcome to contact Chad Wright at chadericwright@gmail.com.

About Cathedral in the Light:

Cathedral in the Light gathers on the Greenfield Common every Sunday at 2 p.m. for worship, followed by a hot meal. So goes our covenant: “All are welcome, all are worthy.”