Written by Courtney McHill, United Methodist Pastor
In the season of Epiphany, we are exploring how we can eat, share and serve, in order to live out our mission to love and serve with all people in restoring all of creation to God’s loving embrace.
One of my favorite things to do in my job is to walk into the North building of McMinnville Cooperative Ministries on a Monday morning around 10am. When I walk in, I see a plethora of people that I have never met before. I take a moment to say “Good morning!” to at least five families filling out intake forms for Community Compassion Fund. There are usually little kiddos playing with whatever toy they have brought with them, accompanied by an adult or two talking in hushed voices over the forms. As I make my way into the office, I notice that usually all of the staff is busily engaging with people to find out the best way to help in whatever way possible. There is usually a mix of languages going on as well.
As I listen I overhear CCF stepping in to fill in the gaps. This may mean trying to keep the electricity on or helping with rent. This could be making sure that the family gets diapers from either the church or another church. This could be a bus pass for a day or a whole week. If nothing else, this means some sort of human connection and the beginning of an offering of relationship if the person would like that connection.
What strikes me most is that the whole person is taken into account. There is no judgment given by staff because we don’t know the whole story and our job is to help. People are coming to eat so to speak. Someone may come in, find coffee and cookies and just need to be. That’s ok. Our task is to look at what next then. The person may have a need that we can help out with. Our next task is to offer a sharing venue and hopefully that person may be in a place to serve once back on their feet again.
What strikes me in our gospel lesson today is Jesus’ care to the whole person. This passage is not just about feeding but about seeing all of the needs of those gathered. They hear that Jesus is near by and take off running to get to the spot before he does. Even with the disciples tired and needing some space, Jesus opens up the time for teaching the whole person. And when it comes time to eat, he says that they must feed them to take care of the whole being. Why would you send people home when God is moving? There is sharing that takes place with the hope being that the people will continue to talk about God. The food is a stepping off point for so much more. Just as much as the cookies and the coffee offer up a moment of relationship. Eat, share, serve.
Quotes for the Week
“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.” – Dr. Seuss
“If you can’t feed a hundred people, then feed just one.” – Mother Teresa
“The difference between a helping hand and an outstretched palm is a twist of the wrist.” –Laurence Leamer
“Pull up a chair. Take a taste. Come join us. Life is so endlessly delicious.” – Ruth Reichl
“Sharing food with another human being is an intimate act that should not be indulged in lightly.” – M.F.K. Fisher
Isaiah 49:8-12 (Message)
This is what the LORD says:
“In the time of my favor I will answer you,
and in the day of salvation I will help you;
I will keep you and will make you
to be a covenant for the people,
to restore the land
and to reassign its desolate inheritances,
to say to the captives, ‘Come out,’
and to those in darkness, ‘Be free!’
“They will feed beside the roads
and find pasture on every barren hill.
They will neither hunger nor thirst,
nor will the desert heat or the sun beat down on them.
He who has compassion on them will guide them
and lead them beside springs of water.
I will turn all my mountains into roads,
and my highways will be raised up.
See, they will come from afar—
some from the north, some from the west,
some from the region of Aswan.[a]”
Mark 6:30-44 (Message)
The apostles then rendezvoused with Jesus and reported on all that they had done and taught. Jesus said, “Come off by yourselves; let’s take a break and get a little rest.” For there was constant coming and going. They didn’t even have time to eat. So they got in the boat and went off to a remote place by themselves. Someone saw them going and the word got around. From the surrounding towns people went out on foot, running, and got there ahead of them. When Jesus arrived, he saw this huge crowd. At the sight of them, his heart broke—like sheep with no shepherd they were. He went right to work teaching them.
When his disciples thought this had gone on long enough—it was now quite late in the day—they interrupted: “We are a long way out in the country, and it’s very late. Pronounce a benediction and send these folks off so they can get some supper.” Jesus said, “You do it. Fix supper for them.”
They replied, “Are you serious? You want us to go spend a fortune on food for their supper?” But he was quite serious. “How many loaves of bread do you have? Take an inventory.” That didn’t take long. “Five,” they said, “plus two fish.”
Jesus got them all to sit down in groups of fifty or a hundred—they looked like a patchwork quilt of wildflowers spread out on the green grass! He took the five loaves and two fish, lifted his face to heaven in prayer, blessed, broke, and gave the bread to the disciples, and the disciples in turn gave it to the people. He did the same with the fish. They all ate their fill. The disciples gathered twelve baskets of leftovers. More than five thousand were at the supper.
Questions for the Week
What does sharing look like for you?
What opens up the door for sharing?