Tuesday, March 17, 2015
More Than A Meal
"I placed a bag of food by your chair. It's chicken and dumplings. I made them this morning to take to a family who just had a baby but made a double portion. Please take the rest to someone who needs a meal." These words ushered me towards a small brown bag while igniting a bit of panic following worship on Sunday. The hours of the day were scheduled along with most of Monday. "Do you think the food will still be good on Tuesday?" I inquired, after expressing my gratitude for the gift.
I grabbed the bag while exiting the sanctuary, sat it down on my desk and glanced at my phone where a message was waiting. The recorded words were drenched in tears, a woman's voice asking me to please come as she did not think her cousin, a beloved older member of our church, would make it through the day.
Plans were set aside as I again picked up the bag and headed to my car in order to drive to the retirement community where our beloved member resides. I walked into her home and was immediately greeted by the cousin who had called, informing me that the woman had finally gotten out of bed and was coming to the chair.
"I have food for you, homemade chicken and dumplings prepared by a church member this morning," I called out, not sure if my offer would be accepted since I had been told she was not eating much. "That sounds wonderful," she responded as I started to fix a plate.
With my heals slipped off, I lowered myself in front of her and started to feed her, placing one bite into her mouth and then another. Each bite was received in gratitude and something began to happen. Ordinary food became an extraordinary offering. The church was made visible as it came to one who has not been in our building for years but reads our bulletins and sermons each week. The new life I often describe to this lifelong member entered the apartment in the form of a brown paper bag still warm to the touch. The church showed up in real and powerful ways.
And I cannot stop thinking about it.
We live in a city where we can order anything for delivery. Dominos can arrive in 30 minutes and pretty much everything else can come within an hour or two including office supplies from Amazon. But sometimes what we really need is an assurance that we're not alone - that we're not fending for ourselves - that someone is willing to show up. When we're hurting or filled with anxiety, we want more than a meal. When we're depressed and ready to give up, we want more than a meal. When we're overwhelmed with a new baby or discerning a new schedule after a hospitalization, we want more than a meal.
I'm regularly reminded of how Jesus shows up in ordinary things: a sunset, a little bread, a sip of wine, a child's laugh, an unexpected phone call. I experience God coming to us through simple gifts every communion Sunday. But I was reminded again on Sunday afternoon about how Jesus can show up any time bread is brought, blessed and broken. What you might think is an ordinary crockpot recipe can become an offering that touches one in ways we cannot begin to imagine.
I called the older member's home this afternoon to ask how she's doing. Her cousin answered the phone. "It's Pastor Donna," I said. "Oh Pastor Donna, you really lifted my cousin on Sunday. I really thought she was dying," she said while I heard my church member say, "Please tell her I just finished the chicken and dumplings."