The Beggar's Bowl
One of my favorite things to do in worship is breaking bread with others. It reminds me of my youth. I grew up in a house full of children and adults. In fact there were 14 folks that called my home, home as well. My grandmother and aunts never meet a stranger and never turned a hungry or lost soul away form our table.
This is one of the passions I bring with me to Douglass Blvd Christian Church. I love gathering folks together around the table in fellowship. We, as Disciples, are not strangers to a weekly table celebration. We gather at the Lord’s Table every week. We are renewed and transformed in mind, body, and spirit as we welcome all to the table.
The table along with the font are the primary sacraments we hold in our faith to be representative of the call of the Christ. We hold that we are unworthy of coming to the table. Yet, we come to the table with grace on our lips and forgiveness in our hearts as we seek to draw nearer to the one we call Christ.
We come to the table on instruction of Jesus. In the same manner to which Jesus served his disciples on that night he was betrayed. We to “take and eat” remembering that Jesus will come again.
It was in this spirit that I hoped to create a space where we as a faith community may draw nearer to each other in Christ and break bread together in a weekly fashion. Doing so I hoped we would strengthen the bonds of family and invite our family and friends into this peaceful storm of togetherness.
The first week of June we set out on a grand experiment called, The Beggar’s Bowl. We booked Monday nights for our adventure in faithful being. We purchased a share of local produce from Grasshopper’s Distribution and set out to cook a creative, organic, locally grown meal for under $3.00 a person.
On that first night we hit a few snags. Meredith bailed me out because I had no idea how to cook kale. We had 8-10 people on that first night. We invited folks to be guest chefs and share with us their culinary daring. The next week we got a little better at cooking and a few more folks came.
By the end of July we had an average of 25 people attending on Monday nights. We made a banner and invited the community. We had homeless fellas stop on by to share a meal with us. Folks from the local community would stop on by and share a meal with us. Every week a new chef blessed us with a delicious local meal. We had exotic meals from Africa, Germany, the Pacific Islands, Thailand, and even Mexico!
In a matter of a few weeks we were averaging 30 people every Monday night. People brought their children and all of the kids played in the Robsion Center as the adults shared stories of their days and enjoyed the company of others.
It was a wonderful event. I looked forward to Monday’s and the joy they brought with them. Rain or shine we would gather together and break bread. The table we shared together there was most defiantly transforming those present.
Sadly, we celebrated our last night together this past Monday night. As we shared this final meal I was struck at how intertwined we had become over the course of these few months. I began to mourn the loss of these Monday nights.
I could not be more pleased at the success of this adventure. It began with an idea and the hope of gathering together at a common table and it became an extended family for me an those that shared n those moments. I am thankful for all that came and all that served. I pray we can do it again in the spring. I invite you all to bring a bowl and gather at the table with all of us beggar’s at the Beggar’s Bowl.
Peace be with you all.
Here is the recipe from the last meal at Beggar's Bowl this year.
Curried Sweet Potato Stew
3 medium sweet potatoes
4 Tbsp of olive oil
1 brown onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 stalks of celery, chopped
1 Tbsp of garam masala*
1 tsp of curry powder
1 tsp sea salt
5 cups of chicken or vegetable stock
1 cup of coconut milk
1/2 cup of water
Curried sweet potato soup with coconut milk is a staple during the cooler months. The creamy, aromatic soup has a subtle sweetness from the roasted sweet potatoes. When making a sweet potato soup I always insist on first roasting the sweet potatoes to enhance their caramel flavor.
*The spices used in this recipe are curry powder and garam masala. Garam masala is simply a blend of warm spices commonly used in Indian cuisine. If you’re unable to find it at your local store, simply substitute it with extra curry powder.
Pre-heat the oven to 350F (180C). Slice the sweet potatoes into 2 inch rounds. Place potatoes in a baking tray and drizzle with 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Season with a little salt. Bake for 1 hour or until tender. Remove from oven and set aside to cool. Meanwhile, in a large saucepan, heat the remaining olive oil over a medium heat. Add the onion and celery and fry, stirring often, for 5 minutes. Add garlic and fry for 30 seconds. Add garam masala and curry powder. Fry, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, for 30 seconds. Remove the saucepan from the heat.
Scoop flesh out of sweet potatoes and discard the skins. Place potatoes into the saucepan and stir well to coat in spices. Add stock and bring to the boil. Turn the heat down to medium-low and cover. Simmer soup for 15 minutes. Remove soup from heat and cool. Ladle soup into a blender or food processor and blend in batches until smooth and creamy. Place soup back into saucepan on a medium heat. Add coconut milk and water and stir well to combine. Simmer soup over a medium heat for 5 minutes.
Divide soup into bowls and serve with a slice of crusty bread for dipping.