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One day the ladies in our church group decided to get together for a luncheon, and to make it special I made invitations and designed a theme for the gathering just for fun. I have always worked with children, and am doing so now, and after raising four children of my own we have always enjoyed a variety of children’s picture books. One of my favorites was the folk story called, “Stone Soup.” So, that was the theme we used for this special afternoon.
Even though there are many versions of the story, this is the one we used:
“Some travelers come to a village, carrying nothing more with them than an empty cooking pot. Upon the travelers’ arrival, the villagers are unwilling to share any of their food stores with them. The travelers then decide to go to a stream and fill the pot with water, drop a large stone in it, and place it over a fire. One of the villagers becomes curious and asks the travelers what they are doing. They answer that they are making ‘stone soup,’ which tastes wonderful, although they still need a little bit of garnish to improve the flavor, which they are unfortunately missing. The villager does not mind parting with a few carrots to help them out, so that gets thankfully added to the soup. Another villager walks by, inquiring about the pot, and the travelers again mention their stone soup, which has not yet reached its full potential. The villager gives them a little bit of seasoning to help them finish their special soup. More and more villagers walk by, each adding their own ingredient. Finally, a delicious and nourishing pot of soup is made for everyone to enjoy” (Common rendition of a Folk story).
Just like the characters in the story—although certainly without the resourceful but mischievous travelers—each lady in our church group brought only one ingredient to add to the soup; so, as each one came for lunch that day they brought ingredients that increased the flavor of the soup.
Eventually, there were about eight or nine different ingredients, herbs and seasonings added to the mix. No one knew what the other women were going to bring so this was a true “potluck.” The conversation and fellowship and laughter we experienced that afternoon was so warm and memorable, and really brought a sense of unity that made us all feel closer to each other. This brought to mind Romans 1:12, where we know we “may be encouraged together” by our mutual faith, and also, Proverbs 27:17: “As iron sharpens iron” so we sharpen each other and enrich one another’s lives. After our luncheon we spent the rest of the afternoon designing cards that we send out, as a church, to those needing encouragement through trials, or congratulations for various reasons of celebration for members throughout the church. Just like the villagers who added to the soup, each lady that day contributed to a wonderful and unforgettable afternoon enjoying one another’s company and example.
We need to remember to do these types of activities on a regular basis, so that when times get tougher we will have these connections to bind us together in loving relationships. Hebrews 10:24–25 instructs us: “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.”