I was driving through New Minas the other day and saw a sign by the main road pointing to a church. The sign announced that there was a ‘luncheon’ at the church. I wondered who on earth would take a detour from the main road in order to attend a ‘luncheon.’
I wouldn’t. It conjures up images of sitting at cheap tables and chairs in a cold room eating thin white bread sandwiches and tepid tea with one or two people you’ve never met before.
I thought then about how a word like this points to so much that is wrong with the church. Not that church in particular. Not even churches in general. Just church people and churchy language and why can’t we just be normal? That’s when I saw the events on our own college schedule described as ‘luncheons,’ and I found myself screaming ‘WHY?!’ in my head.
I looked up the definition of ‘luncheon’ in case I was just being ignorant. It means either a formal lunch or a traditional word for lunch. Since none of the events is in fact a formal lunch, then it would seem we simply have chosen to use a traditional word to describe something very plain and simple. It’s just lunch.
Can you imagine calling up your friend and saying, ‘Hey why don’t you come over for a luncheon?’ Or saying to a colleague, ‘Shall I pick you up something for your luncheon?’ Or telling your kid what you packed today for his luncheon? Or calling, ‘It’s luncheon time!’
No of course you can’t. You can’t because you don’t and you wouldn’t. Yet, somehow, when it comes to the church, using formal and archaic language (and dare I say practices) somehow become not only ok, but the norm. The preference.
Let’s put a sign out on the road to attract people for lunch. And let’s call it ‘luncheon’. That’ll work.
Now I recognize this is a bit of a rant, and those of you who know me will not be surprised that I might engage in such a thing. But I really do think this is a legitimate complaint, and a metaphor for so much more.
Join me in rejecting the luncheon. Let’s just all eat lunch. And help the church be a little bit more real.