Ah, a taco bar, I thought. When planning the meals for our Wednesday night church gathering, I try to make foods that everyone is familiar with but not necessarily what they would have had the night before in their own kitchen. Still, when feeding 100 people, that hope becomes more of a fantasy. My budget means I have to keep it simple, I can’t cook how I really love to, with extravagance and interesting cheese. Comfort food seems to be a better fit, with a healthy option and a nod to the 20 + kids who may or may not eat anything unless restricted from the dessert table until they have consumed their required number of bites (some have to clean their plates, others only a taste or two. No standard admittance to the dessert table, kids can feel the pressure). This week, a taco bar. It felt like cheating though, just too easy, few of my skills involved. Chef made the rice which was out of my comfort zone, he gave it the extra care that I could have given some brie and cranberry puffs or apricot crostini but rice is in our church budget, my appetizers are not. Forced to resist, I chopped and browned and assembled and barely had to concentrate. Everyone loved it.
Sometimes I overthink it, try to do more than is being called of me, missing the point. Feed the people. Not lavish the people, just provide some nourishment. By the time folks drive up to church on a Wednesday night, after working all day and then corralling children, getting back into cars after checking on homework and resisting the couch, they really don’t care what is on the table at church. They are hungry. I am so grateful they show up to attend all of the groups, that they have made the often herculean effort to reach those sanctuary doors. I want to feed them delicacies to show that I get it, I know the sacrifice and yet they just want to eat, to have something warm on their plate that they didn’t have to cook, a drive-through avoided as they choose to keep kids out late on a school night and seek some community and enrichment. They just want a taco bar, familiar food to eat easily while sinking into chairs, knowing their children can identify the offering and won’t balk.
I won’t be making tacos every week but I am considering adjusting the line up, toning down my lofty desire to wow. It may be too easy to feed 100 people comfort food, I may not feel stretched or that my gifts are being fully utilized. Yet, that might be my call: to keep it simple and not overwhelming, to allow the sanctuary to be a walk-in restaurant where everyone can identify the fare and find a seat. The focus on fellowship and not the food, a pure moment of presence as we break bread. Or taco shells. Or open a baked potato. Still, I am watching out for that event that seeks fancy appetizers and salads with more than lettuce. A different hunger, an alternative feeding. After all, my hunger to cook has not been fully sated.