When I was visiting my parents in Ohio last week, I was able to spend time with quite a few people from my home church. Granted, we didn’t hang out in worship because my dad and I went to the Cleveland Browns game instead (Hey! Even ministers need Sundays off here and there!) Instead, I saw folks from church on Friday night because my parents hosted their church’s monthly Euchre night. People have been getting together for over 30 years from Trinity UCC to play Euchre once a month.
Euchre happens to be my favorite card game. It’s huge in the Midwest and I learned to play in elementary school. It’s a partner game played with four people and half the deck of cards. You take tricks to earn points and work collaboratively with your partner to do so. Euchre dates back to the 1800s and was brought to the U.S. by German immigrants. And those German immigrants brought a game where the highest cards are the right and left Bowers (Jacks!) It’s an Americanization of the German word “Bauer” which means farmer or peasant. Who needs a king, queen, or even an ace when you have a mighty farmer in your hand? I could go on and on with how much I love this card game, how much it reminds me of wonderful times with my family, and how it embodies Midwestern values (if you’d like to go down that rabbit hole, there’s a wonderful article called “The People’s Card Game” by Jason Boog.)
But what struck me about playing Euchre on a Friday night with friends from church is how church is one of those places that provides community in a time when we sometimes increasingly feel isolated from one another. It’s wonderful to see each other in worship on Sundays and worship has always been and will always be the heart of what we do in the Christian Church. Yet, when the youth group goes bowling or people get together to make sleeping bags for the homeless or volunteer at the Holly Fair or VBS, isn’t that what church is all about too? Being the beloved community in an often chaotic world? I don’t know, maybe this sounds strange. But hanging out on Friday night with some of the good people of Trinity UCC playing Euchre together sure seems like what church is all about to me.
(This Week’s Thoughts 10.17.19)