Friday, August 14, 2009

Pass the Bread

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She kept coming into her own kitchen offering to help. The women who were working at her sink and serving up the homemade food kept saying, “We don’t need your help . . . Go . . . Sit down . . . Get some rest.” She needed rest. Between work and keeping her household running, her family had additionally kept an hourly vigil at the hospital with a terminally ill parent.

Now because of the parent’s death and funeral, her household ran over with out-of-town extended family. By the day of the funeral, she and her husband had little energy to expend and the family still needed to eat.

When food is shared the givers join Christ in ministry. In the Bible on one occasion in an isolated area, a hungry crowd numbering in the thousands needed food. Aware of the crowd’s hunger, Jesus said to his followers, “You give them something to eat” (Mark 6:37).

On that day, Jesus’ mission was at least threefold – teaching the crowd and disciples about God’s caretaking, providing an actual meal, and cloaking his disciples with servant robes.

That evening when God multiplied small loaves and tiny fish, the disciples became food pantry trainees. The Lord of Harvest provided the bounty and asked the manly disciples to don aprons. From heaven, a chain of blessings began. From his storehouse, God scattered provisions to the needy. And with Jesus beside them the disciples willingly became the middlemen. Stepping in the gap, they passed out what God had multiplied.

Due to the generosity of a group of cooks at my home church, weekly meals are taken to those in need. We’ve taken meals on Christmas Eve, other holidays and ordinary days. I especially remember one such family who traveled to Texas from New York to attend funeral services for their WWII veteran. This family was exhausted from grief and the trip, and when local women cooked and served a noon meal the family tasted Jesus-on-a-hillside hospitality.

Many churches provide this same ministry when a family’s primary cook is too tired to wield a spatula and a skillet. With chicken and dumplings, pecan pies and homemade rolls, cooks build bridges between God’s hand and the hurting.

Eating a meal you didn’t prepare or buy is a relaxing agent for the suffering. Watch for those times when you can ease a burden just by showing up with a chilled salad, fresh fruit, or batches of sandwiches and chocolate chip cookies.

From God’s hand, to yours, to the hurting -- “Pass the bread” takes on a whole new meaning.

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