One way I keep up with the ministries of other churches is through their newsletters. Currently, Rev. Mary Jo Bray and Rev. Mitch Maxted are pastors of First Christian Church in Wauseon – a church in Northwest Ohio I served for six years beginning in 1990. Rev. Maxted, also a transplanted Iowa Disciple, wrote an article this past fall I saved so I could share it with you. He wrote on the occasion of the 130th Chicken Pie Supper, a yearly event at which the church serves around a thousand meals to the community. Mitch noticed and commented on the fact that something as complicated as the Chicken Pie Supper can’t happen without a lot of cooperation. His thoughts, though specific to FCC of Wauseon, are nonetheless appropriate for churches in all times and places – because the ministry to which Christ calls us cannot be done alone. We are, as the body of Christ, in this together. Here’s Mitch’s clever take on Paul’s thoughts in 1 Corinthians 12:
The annual Chicken Pie Supper is now upon us! The 130 year tradition of delicious, made-from-scratch meals continues this Wednesday. I am always amazed how the huge, intricate, and specialized FCC machine springs to life each November to make this event happen. The work begins long before that Wednesday, but reaches fever pitch on Tuesday and Wednesday. The meal can’t be pulled off without lots and lots of people performing a vast array of tasks and services.
This operation reminds me of the Apostle Paul’s description of the church and the people who make it up. Let me offer a “chicken pie” adaptation of 1 Corinthians 12:14ff:
14This meal event can never be a solo effort. Many workers are needed! 15What if somebody stirring cranberry sauce begins to lament, “I didn’t pull chicken meat off the bones or remove skins from potatoes, so I’m not really part of this meal preparation!” Aren’t the fruit and vegetable people just as much a part of the team as the meat and potato folks? 16Or suppose a pie cutter or a ticket seller or a coffee pourer complained, “I’m not a traffic director, so I’m not part of this event.” Wouldn’t both the fellowship hall people and the parking lot people still belong to the group of workers? 17If everyone was a greeter, people would go home hungry! If we had nothing but cooks, the food would never leave the kitchen! 18But as it is, our CWF leadership has put all parts of the team together in a way that enables us to feed our community, and to feed them very, very well.”
Paul’s point (and Mitch’s, too!), is that there are no insignificant parts of the body of Christ. It takes everyone working together in order for the body to function as it was meant to function. That means we must necessarily honor one another – especially those whose gifts are different than our own.
Of course, Chicken Pie suppers are one thing; living and working together in love, forgiveness and peace is another. The Corinthians struggled with this at times, and so do most churches. However, it is some of the most important work we do in the church. So, whether you are a meat and potato person – or fruits and vegetables – remember that your gifts and your work are vital to the life of the church! We can’t move forward with you.