At Travis Park Church, we never quite know what to expect when we throw open our doors on a weeknight in downtown San Antonio. Last Thursday, April 6th, we were happily surprised when we hosted our Maundy Thursday Feast of Love Dinner Experience for nearly 100 guests – double what we dared to hope for – from all walks of life. For the first time since the Pandemic, the ornate Labyrinth Room was packed with friends for dinner complete with chandeliers, linens, and the finest plates and service we could manage. Attendees were a mix of members from our congregation, Alamo City Street Choir, Wednesday Night Prayer & Recovery Circle, Deborah’s Recovery House, hard-working students from the Young Adult Stability & Support (YASS) Center, and even some out-of-town guests that walked by our open doors and decided to sit down and have a meal with us. Children, young adults, and those who have worshipped at Travis Park Church for half a century sat side by side.
The family-style experience set under the theme of LOVE began at 6:00pm and included readings from the New Testament, taking attendees through the last supper with Jesus and the Apostles. Pastor Cynthia Engstrom invited guests to begin the evening by Setting a Place for Love, which included sending ambassadors from each table to choose table décor and bring back supplies for all to participate in setting the table. Next, guests were invited to Open Their Hearts to Love, which included a ritual handwashing. Love Looked for Us as a meal of King Ranch Chicken Casserole and a beautiful custom-made cake was served by our Hospitality Volunteers. The meal was prepared earlier that afternoon in our basement kitchen, the same kitchen that serves hundreds of our street friends each week. Each table was invited to make sparkling cider “toasts” together, highlighting where they felt the love of God during their lives. The evening ended with Lookin’ For Love as we lit candles and made a promise to choose love as we went out into the world.
In a way this night was reminiscent of the kind of sit-down dinners Travis Park Church has enjoyed over the many years in our long history. Most of us have seen the historical photos placed around our building – ladies in pearls and high heels, men in suits. And as we look closer at those photos, we can begin to see things more clearly…
who was seated – who was not?
who was serving – who was served?
who was privileged – who was not?
That part of our history is a tomb of ours – a segregated church, a lie and a marker now of something dead – here at Travis Park Church. But Easter offers the chance for something new – a resurrected community, alive and healing – to be made possible.
The event lasted nearly two hours, which means there was talking, laughter, some tears; and at the end, one had the sense we’d made new friends. We knew one another a bit better than we had the night before.
It was dinner. It was ritual. It was resurrection. It was a breath of new life for our growing, diverse community.
We lift up a special thanks to those that planned, prayed, prepared food, and picked up afterwards. We are grateful for our community – for who we have been, for who we are, and who we are becoming together.