Reflection 2: Multicultural Meal
One of my favorite things about ELCG has always been the international dinners. It’s such a joy to try special dishes bringing flavors of the world (and flavors of friends) together. Some are old favorites by now. But the international meal last spring added something that was new to me. Besides sitting together, eating together, and chatting, we watched many members of the congregation share some presentation – cultural or intercultural.
We learned interesting things, including what a breech birth means in Fulata’s culture. We heard music from different cultures, including Hungary and North Carolina. We heard answers to questions we didn’t even know we had. Many were intergenerational as well, including a mime of some gems of American culture.
Like a dinner, we can just take in such an experience. It’s a quirky and charming array of gifts to each other, of hospitality, of introductions to a great complexity that is only hinted at. When I think about it also being an opportunity to pass on our culture to another generation, often of Third Culture kids, I begin to realize that it may mean more to the one sharing than to the ones receiving.
That makes sense to me. I also presented a little of my experience in a new place, and I spent a lot of time sifting through possibilities and memories to try to explain clearly. I think I spent more time thinking about how to explain my small culture-shock experience (“Why are strangers calling me Papa?”) than I did preparing my contribution to the potluck.
It’s such an exceptional opportunity, really, to be both giver and receiver in passing on some of the richness that each of us has to offer. Spend some time talking to Fulata, or Bismark, or Njoroge, or Ana, or any of dozens of others, about their life beyond the church. This is the feast.
For Reflection and Discussion
1. As you think over the past year in our church, is there a meal that stands out for you as particularly memorable? Why?
2. Where in your life—in our congregation or elsewhere—have you found that offering something has been particularly meaningful or satisfying for you?