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J. Daniel Ashton

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Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might, —Ecclesiastes 9:10a NIV
The LORD God has told us what is right and what he demands:
"See that justice is done,
let mercy be your first concern,
and humbly obey your God." —Micah 6:8, CEV
With all your heart you must trust the LORD and not your own judgment.
Always let Him lead you, and He will clear the road for you to follow. —Proverbs 3:5,6 CEV

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Name: Daniel Ashton
Location: Germantown, Maryland, United States

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Saturday, August 07, 2004

Potluck vs The Community of the Involved

I've had it with potlucks. I'm through, at least at Triadelphia. Do you know what wound up on my plate today? Two kinds of baked beans and two kinds of potato salad! That's it! Where were all the excellent Adventist dishes? The vege-meat? The Spaghetti-O's and weiners? GONE! Even the taco salad was gone!

Why? Why did I get none of my wife's brocolli pie? or her pear salad? Why did she eat none of those things? Because we're involved! I was moderately swift in getting downstairs today after the service. I waited politely for the postlude, and chatted briefly with a few friends regarding plans for music this afternoon and in coming weeks. By the time I got downstairs there was already a line around three sides of the room! When Vicki finished her kitchen duties, guess what was left on the table. And, oh yeah, by that time it's very difficult to find a place to sit, not to mention a table with water still available. (And would it be possible to put more than one pitcher of water on each table?)

OK, maybe this was an unusual occurance. Nope. This is what happens week after week. Delicious and beautiful dishes go to the people who are not serving lunch, to the people who are not arranging music for coming weeks, to the people whose only purpose at that moment is to get downstairs and get some grub.

Did you notice who else came up on the short end of things this week? Pastor & Mrs. Rice had to pull up a new table. The Colons wound up sitting on a pew. Geri Mueller went through the last of the line with us. The Greenes and Cottrells were only a few seconds ahead of us.

OK, let's try to be a little less juvenile about this. Let's momentarily surpress the inner child that comes away kicking and screaming inside because all the excellent food is gone. After all, that's selfish, right? What about the other value of a fellowship meal, namely fellowship?

Well, tell me how many chairs are set around each of those fancy new round tables we have. How many? Six, by my last count. That means that I can fellowship with my wife, my son, my daughter and two other people. We could have done better by inviting two couples to eat in our home! In fact, that seems like a great idea in comparison.

People, I'm saying that there's something wrong here. Those who are involved in church planning, playing and leading should not be paying the price in taking the last bits on the table or the last chairs around the periphery of the room. Something is unfair!

For that matter, if the dish you brought got scraped clean, did you really bring enough? After all, someone will be last in line, and if there's nothing left by that time, are we really doing potluck right?

So for the moment, I'm really bummed about potluck. I don't want to mess with it any more. Fortunately, I'm likely to change my mind before next week! ;-)


Blogger David said...

Good points. I've always felt, for instance, that the change to circular tables was not an improvement.

Let's take the other side of the argument for a while, though. Who better than the people you mentioned to creatively find a place to sit? Certainly one would not wish that responsibility on a visitor. And a dish scraped clean is a compliment--assuming that plenty of food was left elsewhere on the table. :-) Even then it's probably not YOU who didn't bring enough. Who is it other than the potluck participants who put the water at the tables in the first place?

It's from within the ranks of responsibility that one can best change matters for the better. For instance, one might help speed up the line by separating the food into two tables. While the participants continually get left with small portions of the least desirable dishes, they're certainly well situated to keep "emergency" rations behind (perhaps more practical than polite, but an option). A strategy I've used is to double the recipe of my favorite dishes and leave some at home. Fed up with round tables? Surely a limited supply of others can still be found at the church. When available seating is starting to get low, arrange a long table in the corner for those who might enjoy lunching with several families.

Consider: the very fact that most people are staying for potluck makes it easy to corner them for ad-hoc planning sessions for future music or other purposes.

Ahhh. Now that I've played devil's advocate long enough, I'll acknowledge how close to home some of your points hit. Unfair, indeed! :-)

11:11 PM  
Blogger scruggs42 said...

I second David's comments. Whereas I agree that, as a general rule, he who makes preparation will scraps be scraping, I somehow tend toward the Jewish Mother Syndrom and let it wash over me.

Christy brought a wonderful potato and cheese dish that was also set upon long before I got there, but I counted that as good. Not because others were benefitting in my wife's cullenary delights, but because that dish is bad for me. It has too much dairy and I am resigned to not eat it for my own well being. {Sigh}.

So my advise, bring a dish that you would otherwise not be as invested in not recieving.

Hmmm. Now that I said that, it doesn't quite follow the Golden Rule. I may have to rethink my point.

In the meantime, Christy and I would love to have you guys and the Greenes over sometime soon for a Sunday Brunch. What we don't dare at dinner we may brandish for brunch!

9:32 AM  

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