I was a deaconess once. These were my duties:
- Prepare the juice and wafers for communion.
- Pray for the needs of the church.
- Help with baptisms.
- Organize meals. I was put in charge of this one. The other deaconesses said it was because I like to cook, but I soon figured out that it was because none of them wanted to do it. I wouldn’t have minded, except it was like pulling teeth to get people to sign up. I even employed the use of a website – Take Them A Meal – to streamline the process. But that kind of new-fangled technology was too much for that dyed-in-the-wool congregation. They could not let go of their beloved sign-up sheet. Which no one signed. And I think I know why.
When my daughter was in college, she was asked to prepare and deliver a meal to the pastor of her young adult group and his wife. They were adopting a baby. A sign-up sheet went around for two weeks worth of meals. Two weeks worth of meals. For an adoption. No childbirth or c-section from which to recover. My daughter, being a college student, had neither the time nor the money to prepare and deliver a meal. But she did it because, as a small group leader, it seemed like the right thing to do.
Here’s why it is all so wrong:
It is unnecessary.
Back when church ladies first started organizing meals, they did so out of actual need. Back then men worked in the fields all day. Women made everything from scratch, right down to grinding their own flour. Meal prep took all day.
It takes me several hours to make dinner from scratch so I know.
A woman who was sick or recovering from surgery or childbirth needed meals brought to her because, after working hard in the fields all day, it was too much for her hungry husband to then spend four hours in the kitchen preparing dinner. So a casserole from the neighbor was a God send.
But now-a-days a husband passes a plethora of grocery stores on his way home from work, each one offering high quality, nutritious prepared foods, making getting dinner on the table pretty darn easy. (To those living in remote areas with no high-end markets with large prepared food sections, I apologize. You do need meals brought to you. And I’ll bet your sign up sheets fill in fast.)
For the urban and suburban among us, we church ladies have got to stop treating husbands like they are helpless. They CAN do it. They CAN get dinner on the table. Working wives do it all the time. Which brings me to #2.
It inhibits bonding.
Oxytocin is a bonding chemical. It is released in our brains during sex, childbirth, nursing and caring for one another. It is God’s genius design for bonding families. Recent studies show that men who engage in the hands-on care of their children have a stronger bond with them than men who don’t.
Back when my mom was having babies (seven of them), women spent a few days in the hospital. And while my mom was in the hospital, my dad was in charge of dinner. Him making dinner was a big deal, a special memory. It cast a whole new light on him. A wonderful, memorable light.
In our effort to bond with the other women in our church families, we church ladies rob men of the opportunity to form a deeper bond with their nuclear families. And that right there is the #1 reason I refuse to participate in this antiquated tradition. Besides…
It causes burnout.
When legitimate needs for meals arise we are too burned out and/or financially depleted to sign the stinkin’ sheet. So we wait for others to do it. Or we become resentful.
A few years ago I received a request to make a meal for a pastor whose wife was about to have their first baby (no exhausting toddlers at home with whom to contend). Along with the request came a loooong list of don’t-likes and prefer-not-to-haves. It really taxed my sweet spirit. And since I start just about every entré by sautéing garlic and onions – their top two don’t-likes – I abstained.
Fellow church ladies, please, let’s stop the antiquated tradition. Let’s let nuclear families bond.
Anyone with me?