As a church kid, active member of MCC’s for 30 years and MCC Clergy for 20, I have been to more than a few potlucks. I even have my own “go to” potluck dishes for different occasions: bing cherry/pecan/jello salad for smaller events: meatball stroganoff for larger ones; cheese grits or green chili egg soufflé for breakfasts; and walnut brownies (a mix) for desserts. In Baltimore I especially remember the many, many pans of collards seasoned with turkey necks (which I don’t love—if you are seasoning with meat, why not go “whole hog”) I felt obliged as Pastor to sample. At least there was usually fabulous mac and cheese with cornmeal mixed in. Here at St. John’s I have learned to look forward to Charleston style rice (al dente) like my Mother’s Low Country family used to make. So, I am a potluck expert.
Here are my potluck tips:
- Double up your plates (or plan to go back often).
- You won’t like it all, and even if you do there probably won’t be room on it for everything on your plate.
- Take table spoons full of the things you like, but try a teaspoon full of a few other things. You may surprise yourself and like something new.
- Without some planning you may have a potluck where everybody brings green beans—that is never good but it won’t be your last potluck.
- If you don’t like something, you don’t need to say anything about it. Don’t hold up the line and say “stay away from this one.” Look back, you may be surprised to see that other people love it. They may even go back for seconds if there are any. They may not like what you like, and that means more of your favorites for you.
Every once in a while, an inedible dish will sneak onto the table. Some people, God love them, just can’t cook. Remember that they tried. Celebrate their effort. If you must say something about it, make kind suggestions directly to them like maybe they could bring sodas and ice next time.
What’s my point? Our experiences of church and worship are a lot like a potluck buffet. You won’t like it all, guaranteed. Someone else may have very different tastes than yours. Some people came hungry for different things. Some people can’t digest some foods. People especially like familiar dishes, especially those they ate in childhood. It is not polite to force feed people or put things on their plates they don’t ask for. It is a good thing that not everyone likes everything—more for you. The more often you go back to the table (or attend) the more of your favorites you enjoy.
The greatest thing about potlucks is that there is usually variety. It is very hard to get bored. There is something for everybody (even vegans). We get to experience the talents and gifts of our brothers and sisters and learn a bit about their backgrounds. We might pick up some good recipes. My Mother was making bing cherry salad in the 60’s and my best cheese grits recipe came from one of the many Sunday-morning-after-the-disco brunches I got invited to in the late 70’s.
You don’t have to like everything on the table. Have faith, it was probably prepared with someone else in mind. In God’s grace there’s more than enough for everybody.