Showing Love, Serving Breakfast (Feature Friday!)

A Year of Being Kind blog – Friday, February 7, 2014

community breakfast - ranier post

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.

@chaplaineliza

(photo credit – community breakfast, RainierPost.com)

Of Breakfast and Being Kind

A Year of Being Kind blog – Wednesday, January 15, 2014

water sunrise

water sunrise

Of Breakfast and Being Kind

I went to a business breakfast this morning. Genial, good conversation. I enjoyed myself a great deal, although I needed to leave a little early. There were ten of us there. Eight men, me, and one other woman. I knew several of the others. The rest were strangers I was glad to meet.

I had known the woman, an acquaintance of mine, for some years. We hadn’t had a chance to reconnect for some time. It was good to sit next to her at the breakfast. We talked about ourselves, our families, and generally caught up with one another. She confided in me, “It’s good to have another woman here to talk to.” It’s not that either of us is at all averse to being with a room full of men. Certainly not! I really enjoy being with the guys. My friend said she often did, too. But this particular morning, she was happy to hang out with and eat breakfast with a fellow woman.

Afterwards, this comment led me to think further. I didn’t purposely decide to be kind to my friend. It just sort of happened. I was the way I usually am, in interaction with people. I am an intuitive, feeling-sort of person. I am aware of (and sometimes absorb) the emotion and attitude of the people I’m around.  I found myself behaving in an open, friendly way at the relaxed breakfast. I engage with others much more easily in this kind of situation!

I was able to share a little about what I do as a chaplain, and as a caregiver. I come alongside of people. Often in traumatic, highly emotional times. I try to contain strong emotion, and be with people in their time of need. But sometimes I can be there for people in more low-key, genial times. Like this morning, having breakfast with my friend.

Thinking about the beginning of Ephesians 4:32 (our verse for the month!), “Be kind, tender-hearted.” This verse encourages all of us to be kind—that is, sweet, amiable, gentle in disposition. Certainly not hasty, short-tempered, or abrasive. Second, we’re also told to be tender-hearted. That means especially compassionate, even if this is not the default way of being for some people. I can be particularly challenged to be this sort of person at all times, to act this way with everyone I meet. (Even though my personal default way of being does tend towards this kind of behavior.)

When I purposed to do 365 days of service, and to write a corresponding blog for each day (thus, A Year of Being Kind), I tried to have as few expectations as possible. I suppose that was so I could wander my way through each day, encountering people and practicing kindness whenever and wherever God wanted. I am only two weeks into the year. Already, I am amazed at how God has chosen to bring kind, helpful things and acts of service my way, each day. God, I wonder what You are going to bring me for tomorrow? I can hardly wait!

@chaplaineliza