A Year of Being Kind blog – Friday, February 7, 2014
Showing Love, Serving Breakfast (Feature Friday!)
Hungry people are all over the place. Not just in the inner city, or in major metropolitan areas. My friend and fellow graduate from seminary, Grace, is now the youth director at River Falls United Methodist Church, in River Falls, Wisconsin. A little over halfway towards the northern border of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Much closer to the western border with Minnesota and the Mississippi River. River Falls is a college town with the University of Wisconsin-River Falls only a few blocks from River Falls UMC. But other than that, the area for miles around is thinly populated. Small towns, farms, wooded patches, some hilly areas. Few large concentrations of people other than the town itself. Grace commented, “There are no services in any other town really. So many people come [to River Falls] for services. Everywhere else is rural.“
However few or many people live in this area, there are still very real, very human needs. Unemployment. Healthcare issues. Hunger. People struggling to make ends meet, and going without. As Grace said in response to my question about unemployment and under-employment, “It is [sad]. Poverty hides well.”
In the midst of this difficult situation, River Falls United Methodist Church does what it can. The church offers a community breakfast each second Saturday from 8 am to 10 am. Anyone can come. And people do attend. From near, from far—they come to be fed.
Moreover, the faith community at River Falls UMC is also a part of another ministry in town—the Tuesday Banquet that happens on the second and fourth Tuesdays at St. Bridget’s Catholic Church. The folks from the UMC help with the cooking and clean-up. What a wonderful opportunity to work together, to cross denominational lines, and show ecumenical unity. This is truly the way to display the love of God—and not highlight the bickering and division between church groups.
I reflected as I read what Grace messaged to me: what a way to show the love of God in a very real (and filling!) way. I also though of the verse from Matthew 25:40, “Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.” In this larger discourse, the words of Jesus can be stern, even frightening. In this specific verse, however, Jesus gives words of praise to His followers who did not even know they were serving God.
Yes, feeding the hungry is service to God just as much as a service to the hungry people. And River Falls UMC offers to feed the hungry not only physically, but spiritually as well. Satisfying hunger to fill an empty stomach ranks as a primary act of love, as far as I’m concerned. God bless the faithful folks at this church for such a loving, caring ministry of service.
(photo credit – community breakfast, RainierPost.com)