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Our last church spoiled us. Every single Sunday, right after service, we had a fellowship dinner. We worshipped to the smells wafting from crockpots and covered dishes, then came together as a community over lentil bakes and chilis and barbecue chicken sandwiches.
It was glorious.
I got ready for church every Sunday morning knowing that lunch was taken care of, that I’d enjoy some life-giving company and conversation, and that what remained of the day would be spent enjoying my family in whatever way we wished. All it took to reap these beautiful blessings was a little pre-planning on my behalf: something made ahead that could be transported to church, and something popped in the crockpot for Sunday night. (Confession: my family is too large for a single crockpot. We use an electric roaster on the slow cook setting.)
It sounds kind of silly, because in truth I was cooking exactly as much as I would have otherwise, but it always somehow felt like a day off. And I loved it.
We moved here and, much to my sadness, discovered that those weekly fellowship suppers would be a thing of the past. I mourned the loss of the community forged in those post-service hours, but I didn’t realize at first how much I ‘d miss it. I don’t know if your family is like mine, but a switch flips the second we buckle car seats—what was, two minutes beforehand, a happy collection of folks is suddenly teetering close to the edge of breakdown. We need food, or things are going to go haywire pretty quickly.
For months, we made the twenty minute drive home and then spent forty minutes getting out of church clothes, making potty runs, and pulling together lunch. It somehow didn’t matter how simple the meal I had planned was; chaos seemed to erupt like clockwork. By the time we sat down to eat, I had likely snapped at someone, a small person had probably cried at least once, and my oldest daughter’s eyes were glazing with that low blood sugar look. We wolfed our food without much appreciation, then zombie-walked into rest time with the stupor unique to people who have stuffed themselves. I don’t know why, but that hour delay set a tone that somehow blew the Sabbath right out of my Sunday.
Then it occurred to me: Instant Pot.
I had an amazing appliance at my disposal— one I was already using three or four times per week! Why on earth wasn’t I using it for Sunday lunches?
Because I am slow to the draw, that’s why.
Since I woke up to the power of tool I already owned, Sundays have been peaceful again. I won’t lie, I still miss those fellowship meals and the amazing community it knit together. I made deep friendships over those paper plates of baked macaroni and cheese and wedges of cornbread, friendships forged in 18 short months that are encouraging me in my faith today. I got to know families in more meaningful ways, and connect with them in a more tangible, consistent way than I have ever experienced in a church. Why every church doesn’t practice the weekly fellowship meal, I’ll never know.
But at least I can now look forward to a drive home that ends at my kitchen table, where I can ladle out fresh soup, or a hearty stew, or a spicy curry, whatever else I’ve been inspired to toss in that morning. Our Sunday afternoons are peaceful again, our table conversation relaxed and centered on the sermon we’ve just heard. We enjoy our food, and each other. We break and feel refreshed, and head into the rest of the day restored and thankful for the last hours of the family time ahead.
And that’s how my Instant Pot saved Sundays!
Some of our family’s favorite Sunday lunches, curtesy of our Instant Pot: