by Andrea Cross
This year is a special one for our Longest Lutheran Lunch – 2016 is the 50th birthday of the Lutheran Church of Australia. And what better way to thank God for 50 years of blessing than by reaching out to others with his love. This year our Longest Lutheran Lunch theme is ‘Sharing the Gift of Service’.
The 50.500 committee asked me to develop a ‘recipe book’ to inspire people in congregations, schools and aged-care communities to share the gift of service through their Longest Lutheran Lunch in 2016.
I reflected on the task and sought God’s direction, but there was not a glimmer of an idea in my head. I reached for my laptop and asked the internet. This is what appeared on the screen: ‘What do you want to do before you die?’
I discovered that a Presbyterian congregation in the US had created a simple project by constructing a wall coated in chalkboard paint with the phrase ‘Before I die I would like to …’ on it. They provided chalk and invited the community to share responses, launching the project with a community lunch. And there was my link – they launched it with a lunch!
This idea morphed into my 20 Top Tips of Service for the Longest Lutheran Lunch 2016. Your lunch (or dinner or breakfast) can take whatever form you like. It doesn’t have to be held on 31 October or the closest day to Reformation Sunday. Just make it an event that shares the gift of service.
Four top ways to serve
Backyard Blitz Picnic
Allocate helpers to make a picnic lunch for volunteers working on someone’s backyard. Once lunch is served, sit with the residents and the volunteers and enjoy a picnic together which provides everyone with enough energy to finish the job!
Student-free Day Brunch
Offer to provide brunch for teachers on a student-free day at your local school. Cook a barbecue of egg-and-bacon muffins, and serve some slices, fresh fruit, juice, tea and coffee. Watch the teachers interact with the visitors and each other. It’s a real staff morale booster!
Meals on Wheels – Longest Lutheran Lunch style
Cook up a storm in your church kitchen for the elderly, someone who is recently home from hospital, a newly engaged couple, a young family, or anyone else who may enjoy being treated to some home-cooking. It is such a blessing to receive the gift of a meal at your doorstep. Stay a while and chat if it suits.
Clean-up Community Lunch
On a beautiful day, spring-clean your church while playing gospel songs loudly enough for neighbours to hear. Finish with a barbecue lunch and invite anyone who’s walking past to stay for a bite to eat.
Andrea Cross is Coordinator of Longest Lutheran Lunch. To discover Andrea’s
20 Acts of Service lunch ideas, visit www.longestlutheranlunch.org.au and click on Lunch Ideas, or visit the Longest Lutheran Lunch Facebook page. Jot down some ideas that might work at your place, bounce around some lunch-with-service ideas, and register your lunch event on the website – and help other congregations find inspiration for their own community service ideas. You can also contact Andrea on 0400 425 254.
Lacey Rudolph, Dalton Cross, Dusty Cross and Jemima Olsten with baby daughter Romy demonstrate an idea for an act of service – helping a local agricultural society set up for the town’s annual show, with a lunch to follow for committee members. If your congregation has links to a local service or interest group, could you get a team together to hold a working bee for members and then serve them lunch afterwards? Another act of service could be to help the group clean up after an event such as a country show, a scout jamboree, a bowling club tournament, a school fete or a car club rally.
During this synodical term, 2015–2018, the LCA/NZ reaches two significant milestones: in 2016 the LCA’s 50th birthday; and in 2017 the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. 50.500 faith.freedom.future invites us to celebrate and commemorate these special anniversaries – with thanks to God for his past blessings, and in the sure hope and confidence that he is building the LCA/NZ for the future.