God Showed Up
Every Tuesday we begin soup kitchen with worship. On average we get 20-50 people who attend the soup kitchen worship and another 100-150 who join us for the meal. I begin with reminding each person who attends that they are valuable to God and to West End Collegiate Church and then I extend "The Grace and Peace of Jesus Christ be with you all" and they respond "Also with you, Reverend Jes." I open the floor and ask the congregation what are we praying for today? "Good health!" someone shouts. Another "Peace in me and our neighborhood." and then another says "I need God to deliver me." After our prayers I ask "And people of God, what are we thanking God for today?" The first response is usually "We woke up this morning!" and then "For this church!" and another will say "I thank God I'm clean today." We pray and then I lead us in the study of Scripture. At the end of Bible study we conclude by standing up and saying the Lord's Prayer. Then the hungry bodies are greeted by loving volunteers who welcome them to the food line.
Last night we started a new writing group. Once a month we will write and then read our stories together. I felt vulnerable and alive as I sat in silence with these beloved people of God. We wrote stories from our day and then shared our stories. Precious (a soup kitchen member) guided us and said "When we comment after someone has shared their story we can only offer positive words. We want to encourage each other here." After reading our stories there was a true communion, a holiness even. Precious concluded our time and said "I would travel all over the City to get to this soup kitchen. There is a peace here. This church is blessed." The group nodded their head. Then another man said "Yeah, I travel from the bottom of Staten Island to be here. God shows up here." We collected our papers and said our good-byes.
Yes, I do believe God shows up here. I see Jesus every Tuesday. Sometimes Jesus is the smelly guy who sits by himself in the corner. Sometimes Jesus is the happy drunk who has almost all of Scripture memorized. Sometimes Jesus is the one who is tired, a little grumpy, and in need of rest. Sometimes Jesus is the volunteer who serves the food. Each week God shows up and it is our job to keep our eyes open, ready to receive how God wants to show up that day.
Prayer: God, thank you for the many people at West End who prioritize the soup kitchen ministry. Thank you for those who prepare the food. Thank you for those who eat the food. Thank you for showing up in our live each week. Amen.