You may be thinking there’s a typo in the title of this column, but no. As I submit this column on the last day of the State Fair, I’m renaming the Great Minnesota Get-Together. For the purposes of this article, State Feast is a more appropriate name for the gastronomical extravaganza we’ve just endured and enjoyed. With the opening of a fourth location for Sweet Martha’s Cookies on the fairgrounds, plus so many other minimum-square-foot food stands with maximum ingredient concoctions you can eat without a table while just walking around shoulder-to-shoulder with 100,000 other eaters, who can deny that the new prevailing definition of our beloved annual event has ‘feasting’? For this year at the fair, WCCO-TV created a news documentary titled “Since We Last Met”. I suggest it should have been titled “Since We Last Ate”!
Don’t get me wrong. I’ve loved the fair since the 1960s when my brothers and I brought our farm’s livestock to the hog and cattle barns year after year for 4H, FFA and open class competitions. The celebrations of agriculture, industry, history and Minnesota culture included foods and church-sponsored diners with names like Gloria Dei and Epiphany — gathering places staffed by their youth groups, which brings this article to the next season and the second half of my column — church feasting begins!
Many call it “Rally Day” and it comes on the first Sunday after Labor Day when it marks the beginning of learning programs like Sunday School for children and Bible studies for adults. Some congregations add fair-like events by including bounce houses and dunk tanks, picnics and chicken dinners. Aha! Feasting might be involved at churches too, but, for purposes of this article, state and church definitions are differentiated on this point. The church’s ultimate purpose is the feeding of the soul.
I credit Ray Makeever, songwriter and worship leader at Augsburg University in our own metropolitan community, for writing and composing a wonderfully short but poignant hymn shedding light on our deepest hungers, begging to be fed at the church feast. Its title is in the first line:
“We come to the hungry feast hungry for a word of peace. To hungry hearts unsatisfied the love of God is not denied. We come, we come to the hungry feast.”
Other phrases in verses that follow speak to needs of heart and soul:
“…Hungry for a world released from hungry folk of ev’ry kind, the poor in body, poor in mind….that the hunger cease, and knowing, though we eat our fill, the hunger will stay with us; still we come, we come to the hungry feast.”
This week I’m praying for crowded church parking lots and sanctuaries filled with worshipers standing shoulder-to-shoulder singing and praying together. I’m hoping for record-setting numbers of children and adults with hungry souls and minds learning eternal truths in church classrooms. I’m expecting those fed at feast tables of their faith communities will be satisfied, but will keep coming back for more each week!
And yes, now “church feasting begins”, but please believe and trust with me, it never, never ends.