Our family has hosted Friday Family Meal (FFM) for three-and-a-half years, and thanks to a fearless love grant, we were able to cover our costs for 2017. The purpose of FFM is to share a gift of a meal and make connections with our neighbors. There’s no agenda; we simply welcome people to our table, like Jesus did, and hope they leave not only fed, but feeling more beloved.
Even though there isn’t an overt spiritual side to FFM, by its very nature as a shared meal there are movements of the Spirit at our table. We’ve had conversations that went both deep and wide. After the 2016 election, we had a communal time of processing and grieving. One evening found us debating the concept and nature of white privilege. Our children have the opportunity to ask a “table question” and learn more about the adults they’re eating with (giving them ideas about what they can accomplish and who they may become). We have sung and prayed, laughed and cried together.
I believe God shows up around our table just as faithfully as at the altar in a church building.
One friend told us that FFM “saved” her from a dark period in her life, giving her hope to go forward. Another calls it her church. We’ve had de facto marriage counseling and lifted each other up through painful situations. We share not only food, but if anyone needs something they are usually able to connect and find it through the community we’ve built.
We’ve had friends both locally and across the country take the idea into their own homes. One family in Point Loma hosts pizza and movie gatherings in their beautiful backyard, taking the FFM concept to a new neighborhood. Another friend in the Chicago area hosts monthly neighborhood potlucks, crediting FFM with giving her the boost she needed to get them started (just as we were originally inspired by a blog post about “Friday Night Meatballs” in Philadephia).
FFM has helped our neighborhood grow closer, and there’s a renewed sense of trust and safety in our community. It’s become the invitation people make when they meet someone new in town: “You should check out Friday Family Meal!” And despite being around for several years now, new neighbors keep finding us and showing up, even as we go ever-deeper into relationship with our “regulars.”
The folks who join us aren’t interested in a Sunday morning worship service, but they are longing for the connection to Spirit and neighbor that comes through intentional community-building. We’ve been so humbled and grateful to be along for the ride, while God has done this thing in Ocean Beach.
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