Filling Hungry Stomachs? Being Kind! (Feature Friday!)

A Year of Being Kind blog –Friday, March 21, 2014

help local food pantries

Filling Hungry Stomachs? Being Kind!

This month of March has five Saturdays. That means St. Peter’s UCC Church in Skokie is getting ready to prepare and serve a hot dinner for the Community Kitchen at A Just Harvest! Yes, every month with a fifth Saturday is St. Peter’s turn to serve. The pastor, Rev . Richard Lanford, along with the food coordinator Sue Bailey and the volunteer/server coordinator Beth Lanford, facilitate the ministry at the church to fill hungry stomachs in Chicago.

This partnership with A Just Harvest has been active for 30 years. Years ago, the congregation at St. Peter’s Church supplied a hot meal for the Kitchen once a month. Now, they still serve, but not as often. Every fifth Saturday. And what is served to these hungry people? A hot meal, including bread, cookies and something nourishing to drink. Recently, it’s been sloppy joes. Ground beef mixed with onions, celery, pepper, sweet relish, and a whole host of different spices. (Makes me hungry just thinking about it!)

But, just what is “A Just Harvest,” anyway?

This ministry gives people an additional resource against hunger. It’s located in the Rogers Park neighborhood of Chicago. Formerly known as Good News Community Kitchen, A Just Harvest was founded by the Good News Community Church in Chicago and First Congregational Church of Wilmette. These two congregations began serving a weekly meal – each contributing food and volunteers. By 1991, A Just Harvest was serving dinner seven nights a week. They are partners with more than 35 religious congregations and community organizations.

A Just Harvest makes certain that—on most any night—as many as 200 people (mostly from the city of Chicago, but also from the Chicagoland area) are fed and get enough to eat. The most the volunteers have served on a particular night is 229! But those numbers don’t tell the full story. A Just Harvest is there, in Rogers Park, for people from all walks of life. Many and varied reasons exist for people to suddenly become homeless. This ministry is here for anyone from any walk of life. People can be confronted by choices: the choice between paying the rent, or putting food on the table. Or, paying for necessary medication, and getting enough to eat.

This ministry is also involved in various other kinds of good works. They provide things that homeless people or people who have lost their jobs really need! What about workers, who don’t make quite enough to carry them through until the next paycheck? (The ones whose jobs don’t pay enough to cover basic needs?) Plus, providing for children who are either in poverty, or almost to that poverty line, displays God’s provision and encouragement.

St. Peter’s congregation members and friends serve dinner, true. But they do a whole lot more, just by faithfully showing up. Thank God for faithful congregations like St. Peter’s! And, God bless A Just Harvest, their staff and clients, And may God bless the many good, kind gifts the ministry receives every day.


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In Which I Try to Serve—With Enthusiasm?

A Year of Being Kind blog – Wednesday, March 12, 2014

BK always be kind

In Which I Try to Serve—With Enthusiasm?

Another day, another act of service. That’s what I have been praying for God to send me, each day. Day by day. One day at a time.

Today I considered the verse I’ve chosen for March, which comes from Ephesians 6:7. “Render service with enthusiasm, as to the Lord and not to men and women.” One problem—what if I don’t feel like being enthusiastic? Case in point: there was wintry weather again here in Chicago today. A continuation of the winter that just won’t quit. Both the yucky weather and yet another dismal, depressing day are wearing on me and my attitude. In fact, generally wearing on me, period.

But that yucky, dismal way isn’t the way I need to act. At least, not if I want to be faithful to the way I’ve been praying this past number of weeks.

All right, God. I give. I get the sense that You want me to pull out a commentary and check out Ephesians 6. Lo and behold, this particular passage concerns the different household relationships: men, women, children, and . . . slaves. (I realize this highly-charged word brings up all kinds of things, many different thoughts in people’s minds! I know. Hopefully, I will talk about this aspect in a later post this month. Remind me.)  Several other translations translate that word “doulos” as servant. Okay, I know I am the servant of Christ. I got that. I know I am supposed to do the will of God from my heart.  Grrr! Being a good and faithful servant is particularly hard sometimes! I just wanted to let You know that.

After thinking these kinds of thoughts, I got my head oriented towards service. I did have an easier time looking for opportunities to serve, then.  Among other things, I did an errand for a friend who doesn’t get out too much. I am occasionally asked to pick up things at the store, or go and fetch something else. Never any thing huge, but I’m happy to do it. (I would even be content if I did have to fetch and carry something big!) My friend was really pleased with what I was able to find, and I felt satisfied that my friend was overjoyed.

So, after the fact, I am glad that I went out of my way to provide a service to my friend today. Acts of intentional service almost sound like they are something clinical and antiseptic, or perhaps some do-gooder act. But, no! That’s not the way God has been working in my life—at least, not that I can tell. I have another friend (a kind pastor) who keeps reminding his congregation to look for where God is already working and get on board there. I think I have my marching orders. Enough to keep me busy for quite a while, anyhow.

I thank God for kind people like my friend. Or rather, both my kind friends! God bless them richly.


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