Jeff Doucette, a United Church of Canada pastor, Enniskillen Tyrone United Church in Bowmanville, Ontario, wrote a morning prayer for Casa which is an ecumenical and international online church. I am grateful for the permission to publish it here.
We have new neighbors who are Armenian. We have discovered Armenian BBQ…not Canadian…but Armenian. We use gas grills and charcoal and haul the meat inside as soon as it is done.
With our friends, there is always something to eat before, fresh fruit, pastries. But part of the experience is watching the fire being built. Arsen, the son, makes a wood fire out of branches and it burns high and then down into almost wood embers…he uses a makeshift cover to fan the embers to put it into perfection. Then once ready the marinated meat is placed on large skewers and slowly cooked over the fire and then placed into a huge pot with fresh onions mixed in. You are then invited right there by the fire to grab a piece of pita style bread and dig into the juicy meat and eat. And they continue to say “Eat! EAT!!!!!” and so you do until you think there is no more room.
Then the mom says “Ok bring the rest in and let’s go have supper!!!” And we are like “What? We thought that was the supper!” And she looked at us have insulted. And when we went in…the table was filled with fresh salads and BBQ’d veggies and fresh Armenian bread and home made hummus, and fresh garden beets and cukes that had been pickled. And she yells “Jeff come on…eat more” And your eyes are bulging out from all the food but you eat more. Then the main meal is taken away and she fills the table with fresh fruit and makes Armenian coffee. And her and her husband and their friends and family gathered speak in Armenian with lots of laughter and playful teasing. We no longer feel like just neighbors…but friends.
(And we hear the text — Luke 14: 1, 7-14) And so I say unto you: “To what can I compare the kingdom of heaven? It is like an Armenian BBQ. Where no one is stranger or just neighbor…but made to feel like family. You arrive at the gates of the kingdom and there is someone there building a fire…sees you and gets up and embraces you and says welcome and hollers to those inside the gates we are there. They come out to greet us and bring us to begin to eat and watch the fire become ready…and then you eat some more…and there is much laughter and maybe a language you do not understand, but it feels if you understand, because there is lots of laughter and love. And when you think you cannot eat more…you are led to the table to eat more and there is more laughter and more people come in the door and join the feast.
In God’s kingdom…there are no strangers…only family. There is food and drink and laughter and soon the stranger becomes as if you always knew them. And there is love…so much love.