I’m going to go ahead and apologize to Jon Acuff.  You may have heard of Jon; he writes a small, struggling blog and matching book called Stuff Christians Like with enough readers to take on Moldova in an arm wrestling match.  I would have submitted this post to Jon for that blog, but I hear his publishing standards are very high, and include some under-the-table payoffs and perhaps naming rights to a yet-unborn child.

But I digress.  Thievery of intellectual property aside, the tale must be told of Stuff Small Groups Like.  In this case: Food Wars.

If you’ve been a part of a small group in this or any previous life (welcome, Hindu readers), you’ve been exposed to Food Wars.  It’s where various group members compete to crush all competition when it comes to their assigned “refreshment night.”

Our small group has fallen victim to Food Wars as of late.  We used to be normal…relaxed…yea verily, carefree.  The aforementioned refreshments consisted of pooling money for pizzas, picking up Taco Bell on the way in, even breaking out a communal bag of chips and salsa (I always went first.  Hello, bacteria.  Goodbye, social skills).

But then, the assignments began.  Each couple signed up for a night when we would be solely responsible for the nourishment of the others and the hospitality of the group.  But instead of outdoing one another in showing honor, we were attempting to outdo one another with our awesome culinary skills.

It started simply and innocently enough.  I think our first meal was taco salad with all the trimmings.  The next week, it was a full baked potato bar, complete with sautéed peppers and onions.  Then, chicken and shrimp skewers hot off the grill.  Meringue pies.  Gourmet chocolate chip cookies.  Belgian waffle buffet.  Pot roast.  7-layer lasagna.

And though it’s never verbalized, you can feel the tension when we get together.  Couples are secretly eyeing this week’s offerings, determined to beat it the next Sunday.  While the Bible study is underway, the guys are breaking out their iPhones, looking up dry rub recipes for hand-cut sirloins.  Women pretend to pray, when really they’re thinking through their menu: imported salmon.  Rack of lamb.  Deep fried Cajun turkey.  Build-your-own-five-course-dinner.  Lobster flown in from Maine.  Hand-dipped truffles.  New York cheesecake, delivered and spoon-fed to us by authentic New Yorkers.

I fear the day is coming when our small group will look like a Jerry Springer episode: a guy tearfully confessing that he lays awake at night thinking of another lady’s Monte Cristo sandwiches.  And then from across the room comes his wife like a windmill of terror, screaming “Oh no you di’unt” and sending ham shavings everywhere.  Marriages on the rocks.  Relationships in ruins.  Friendships destroyed.  And all of it because of refreshment night.

Which reminds me: I think next week is when we’re on deck.  Gotta call my contact in Maine.