Shared Table

The Kitchen

Erik and Bekah Polzin and their kids moved to Walnut Creek less than a year ago.  I've watched them integrate into the Open Door family at a healthy pace and in a humble posture...we have a lot to learn from them.  After an incredible evening shared in their kitchen and around their table, I asked them if they'd be up for hosting a Super Bowl neighborhood party.  They said "Yes!" and proceeded to host space where new relationships could be forged.  Take a read as Bekah reflects on the residual transformation of that evening: Kitchen

Have you ever noticed, no matter how big or small or glamorous or simple a house is, people congregate in the kitchen? You can set the h’ordevers 2 rooms away or form a candle lit path a different direction, but somehow everyone migrates to the kitchen.

Our kitchen was crowded on Super Bowl Sunday and it was beautiful.

Earlier this month we were asked to host one of the Super Bowl parties. Being that we’re new(er) to Open Door, I’d be lying if I said there wasn’t a small part of me that was hesitant. Is it true for you, as it is for me, that sometimes I go to the negative before I see the positive? I’d have to clean the house, figure out what to serve, make sure my kids were “on their best behavior”...but we said YES!

We had little idea what to anticipate, being that we’d never experienced an Open Door “party” before. Would there be 30 people or 3? Does anyone even know who we are? Would we know them? Does it matter?

In addition to opening up the party for Open Door people, we ended up inviting our neighbors, who like us, have 4 kids are and are newer to the area. As one big group of individuals and families we enjoyed the evening together. We came from different parts of the Bay Area, different back grounds, different jobs and had different interests.  None of it mattered as we watched 13 kids playing with one another, no qualms with what the other liked or disliked. They effortlessly created a space of common interest and left their differences at the door.

By the end of the night, they were all friends and were asking their parents when they could see each other again. It was a beautiful thing.

I don’t consider myself a hostess or entertainer. I don’t own a second set of dishes that I pull out to entertain with. I rarely light a candle or turn on music to enhance the ambiance of the house. I seldom look up new recipes to try. But I’m learning the beauty of entertaining and that these aren’t the details that matter.

Every Sunday night a group of adults and our 4 kids gather in our kitchen. It’s one of my favorite times of the week. For an evening we all come together from different backgrounds, different occupations, different ages, different beliefs and different views. Some nights we share meaningless small talk and other nights we find ourselves in heated conversations struggling to relay our perspective as perfectly as possible. We challenge each other and learn from one another. We push each other, apologize to one another and forgive each other.  We push the boundary of surface friendships while respecting the importance of acceptance.

Our worlds collide in the kitchen and at the table.

I’m learning to say YES to the Lord and what he puts in front of me, and becoming a “hostess” is something I’m beginning to choose. Why? Because I’ve seen the Lord show up at the table and around the kitchen in a way that makes me want to open my home more to friends, to guests and to Jesus. The kitchen is a powerful space where judgment and variance dissipate.  I’m discovering how much I can learn from someone who isn’t just like me. It’s where we all gather with a common need of nourishment and an even deeper desire for acceptance.

Jesus will show up in your kitchen. But we first have to say yes to the invitation.

Matthew 18:20 “For where two or three gathered in my name, there I am among them.”

Ephesians 4:15-16 “Rather speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.”

Giving Thanks Tangibly

God has invited Katie Finegan to join Him in His work of justice and jubilee from within her Central Walnut Creek neighborhood.  In this post, Katie invites us to join her in a shared table experience on behalf of those who don't have homes or tables to linger at this Thanksgiving.  Read on and embrace the invitation, the beauty and the challenge of this shared meal experience on Thursday, November 22. As we enter the month of November, many of us pay closer attention to the circumstances, relationships, and things in our lives that we are thankful for. There’s something about this season that sharpens our vision for blessings. Our lives are full: we may struggle, but we do it in the midst of community. We may have tasted hunger or loneliness, but most of us don’t live there without provision or relief of some kind. Our cups are full so that we might spill them out, and there are opportunities all around for us to do so, if we’re looking for them.

Many of us have come to understand the significance of, and value in a shared meal. As we continue to learn about how to live in the context of our neighborhoods and communities, many of us have been incorporating more meals, potlucks, happy hours, and gatherings into our weekly and monthly rhythms. Traditionally, Thanksgiving is a day when many of us gather together with family and friends to give thanks for the abundance, eat a lot of turkey and stuffing, and settle into a pleasant food coma. And this meal tends to mark the beginning of a season of gatherings: drinks out with friends, plates of cookies set out in the staff lounge, coffee with old friends in town for the holidays, big family meals, pot-lucks and holiday parties. In fact, many of us struggle to balance our holiday calendars, and even experience stress over the sheer amount of social offerings and obligations that bubble up and spill over during this season. And there is certainly a lot to be thankful for during this time, abundance and blessings in our lives worthy of being celebrated and toasted.

But this isn’t the way everyone experiences these months. For many, the holidays can be the bleakest, emptiest season – a time where hunger and cold and loneliness are magnified. There are plenty of people in our neighborhoods who don’t struggle to balance stacks of invitations, who don’t effortlessly put on extra holiday weight, and who don’t have family or friends to gather with during the holidays. As we enter into this season, let’s do it with our eyes and ears open, looking and listening to where there is hunger and loneliness of all kinds. Let’s open up our homes a little more, extend invitations, share our abundance, and pay attention to the need and longing in our neighborhoods.

The campus of St. Paul’s is part of our neighborhood; it’s where Open Door gathers to worship together on Sundays, but it is also home to many organizations and groups that meet throughout the week. For the past twelve years, the youth house has been used on Tuesdays and Thursdays by Fresh Start, a non-profit organization that served the homeless, unemployed, and working poor in our community. Though Fresh Start closed on October 31st, St. Paul’s has decided to continue to offer as many services as possible, re-opening as 'The Trinity Center'. This is a unique opportunity to explore what it looks like to participate in the creation of community and to serve where there is need - in the very place where we gather together to worship and to continue to learn what it means to follow Him together.

We have a great opportunity to do this on Thanksgiving – to prepare and share a meal, to widen our circle, to fill a need, and to serve. We've been invited by our gracious host, St. Paul’s Episcopal & Bay Area Rescue Mission, to join them in preparing, serving, & partaking in a Thanksgiving feast with our friends without homes or tables. The details are below, so please consider how you might be able to support or join the effort. Even if you have family plans on the actual holiday, there are ways to help out and pull this together!

The meal will be served in the Parish Hall at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, 1924 Trinity Avenue, Walnut Creek, on Thanksgiving day, November 22 at 1:00pm.

Any financial donations could be made out to "Bay Area Rescue Mission" (BARM)  with “Walnut Creek Thanksgiving Meal” designated in the memo.  Donations could be dropped into Open Door's offering box and we will be happy to send them along.

Any food donations could be brought to our gatherings on Sunday, November 11 or 18th.

Turkeys have been donated, and a couple of Walnut Creek bakeries have been contacted to donate bread and pies, but we still need:

  • Stuffing
  • Potatoes
  • Cranberry sauce
  • Vegetables
  • Salads
  • Other desserts

Here is a list of volunteer host roles for the actual event:

  • Servers / Hosts
  • Food preparers
  • Entertainment / Activities team
  • Set-up crew
  • Tear- down / Clean-up crew
  • Prayer support team

Please feel free to contact me (katie.finegan at gmail.com) with any questions you may have, or resource, time, or support you may be able to provide.

Many Thanks!

Katie