This past week Simple Church hosted a community meal for ~60 guests from Upward Bound house Family Shelter and Family Place which provides transitional housing and services for homeless families. There was an outpouring of generous food offerings, volunteer hours and love from our congregation. Our social hall was a buzz with families and congregants all sharing a home cooked Thanksgiving meal together as one body. The children played tag in the alcove of the hall, painted pumpkins and gourds while the adults chatted with one another over turkey legs, pumpkin pie and sparkling cider.
It always amazes me what God does when we break bread together. I am yet still dumbfounded when something as simple as eating dinner together can break us open to the mysteries of God’s grace made real in the presence of Christ among us. My inability to grasp this theological concept is probably a result of living in our ‘bigger is always better’ world which spouts off a false narrative that God only works through big things like Mega-churches, bestselling spiritual memoirs, or international relief organizations. *
More often than not, I forget that God uses simple ordinary things like a loaf of bread and a cup to reveal to us the infinite wonders of God’s life-giving love made flesh and blood in our world.
While I stood there taking it all in, soaking in the presence of the divine, a long time church member came and stood next to me and said, ‘we can do better.’ I turned to her and I could see in her face how troubled she was by what she was experiencing. She said, ‘we need to do better for these families.’ I could hear in her voice the deep compassion of Jesus and a yearning for a new world where we don’t have homeless children. In that moment, she brought me a prophetic word of truth and love in the midst of my awe and wonder at God’s grace at work in human community. She reminded me that God doesn’t just work through the warm fuzzy feeling that we sometimes feel when we do something to transcend our-selves. She reminded me that God works in us when we weep with those who suffer injustice in our neighborhoods; when families are without permanent housing and are forced to do whatever they can just to survive. She reminded me that Christ is with us when we break bread together, but also when we are in relationship and solidarity with the poor, the lost, the forgotten, the weak and the vulnerable. When we hear their story and it makes us weep and we think, together, we can do better.
We will continue to host our community meals at Family Shelter regularly. We will continue to break bread and soak in the grace of Christ’s presence among us when we do, and we will continue to weep with our friends as, together, we work for a new day, a new world, when all will be housed.
* Bigger is sometimes better and God does occasionally work through Mega-Churches 🙂