Where Everybody Knows Your Name

Now, I’m not a big Cheers fan. Well, actually, I don’t know if I’m a Cheers fan – I’ve watched all of about half of an episode. When I thought about my experiences at one of the meals we go to in the community on Tuesday nights, though, the Cheers theme song started playing in my head.

Sometimes you want to go
Where everybody knows your name,
and they’re always glad you came.
You wanna be where you can see,
our troubles are all the same
You wanna be where everybody knows
Your name.

Maybe quoting Cheers is Cheesy, but who ever said I didn’t want to be cheesy? I am from Wisconsin, after all. Okay. Enough of the funny jokes. Living in Uptown does help me take myself less seriously. So much fruit has been growing in my own life just from living in this neighborhood. After years of Bible College I feel like I can read and understand Scripture with more clarity, understanding and guidance from the Spirit than I did the whole time I was in school.  Many of the tools I learned there are helping me now, I’m sure, but I’m also sure that living in the constant proximity of people in financial poverty and calling them my friends helps, too. Anyway, back to Cheers.

Beside my family, and a few close friends I don’t see often, most people don’t start jumping up and down when I enter a room. No shouts for joy, or clamoring to hug me first.  Trust me, this would personally terrify me if this did happen, I’m not asking for it. On Tuesdays, though, when we walk into the lovely room where All Saints’ prepares a delicious and unique meal for the community, we get a glorious welcome.  The feelings are mutual, we love these people.  I know we wish we could multiply and get to know each person at each table, but right now it’s just two. Two tables that save us seats in case we’re late. Two tables that chat our ears off, and seriously want to know how we’re doing.  Two tables to play games with and laugh with, and chow down together when the family style bowls and dishes are brought out. Yum.

Another thing rings true in the Cheers them song: “You wanna be where you can see our troubles are all the same.” At that round table, everyone is the same.  We’re all their because we’re hungry and either didn’t have the money to spend on a meal or wanted to enjoy a free meal this church graciously serves faithfully each week. We talk about housing situations, and how much rent costs.  We talk about how hot it is, how sweaty we are, and how we just can’t catch a break and get that job. We might even talk about the addictions we hold on to, or are holding on to us. Same troubles. Same problems. Nothing like a circular table and a meal to equalize everyone.  Whether the food is good or bad, we experience it together.

Cheers had it absolutely right. We do just want to go somewhere where people know our name. Where friends welcome you and are glad you are there.  Where you can sympathize with the pain, and yet still experience joy and life. Jesus had it right, too; He ate with and fed thousands of people, even when He was exhausted (He shared in their suffering). I am thankful for His example.