Showing God’s love one meal at a time
Posted by Laura Rendall | Published May 16, 2017
It was the end of a hard day. I was recovering from surgery and the kids were crabby. James had just come home, tired from a long week at work. Everyone was hungry, but the food situation was sketchy because I hadn’t made it to the grocery store. Just then, a knock on the door. In came Tom and Kelsie Olsen with supper for us. Nothing fancy – a pot of soup and some cornbread. They walked right in, turned on my stovetop to keep the soup hot, and set the cornbread on the counter. “We’ve gotta go,” they said. “We’re having supper with Johnsens tonight.” And then they were gone. It was a quick moment, lasting all of three minutes, but our evening had just gotten a little brighter. As we ate our soup (delicious by the way!) and our bellies grew full, our hearts were also full, encouraged from the love that had been shown to us.
Mealtimes are something that everyone, the whole world over, has in common. The need to eat is one of our most basic survival functions. Making and sharing a meal with someone gives us the ability to cross boundaries, demonstrate love and deepen relationships, all while meeting a very practical need. This is one of the reasons we gather around a dinner table in our churches. And it is also the reason why bringing a meal to someone in need can be so impactful.
Macaley Johnsen has been on the receiving end of meals and has also been the one to coordinate meals for others. She says that the impact the church family has had on her family when they drop off meals has been huge. “In times of need, it has been so meaningful to have our church family regularly checking up on us – not only bringing us a meal, but asking how we are doing and talking with us about it.” Macaley also says that practically, it’s such a gift to not have to think about groceries during difficult times. “It frees up a ton of your mind not to have to think about food and to know the church body is taking care of you in that way.”
In the North Campus/Yuma cluster, it’s traditional for us to provide meals for families with newborns. When a new baby comes home from Mary Greeley, we all expect a meal sign-up to be sent around. However, as we have discovered, there are many other types of situations where meals can be useful. There are many other circumstances in which the love and support of a church family, shown through simple dinners, is needed and even crucial to families and individuals experiencing life at its roughest.
Over the last year, our church cluster found quite a few reasons to provide meals for people. Of course we had a few babies, and we also had a family who went a whole month without a paycheck. We provided meals for a neighbor when she was widowed, for a mom suffering postpartum depression, for a grieving family. We provided meals for a single mom whose kids were sick. My own family was on the receiving end when suddenly my appendix needed to come out. Sometimes a family needed meals for just a few days, and sometimes months (as in the case of our two families with twins!).
We’ve seen meals be a blessing not only to our own church families, but to people in our community. I asked Macaley what impact she’s seen meals have on families outside our church. “People are so surprised and completely floored that church members who don’t know them are willing to meet their needs in that way,” she said. “It provides neighbors and the community around us with a good idea of who we are as a church.”
It’s amazing that something so simple can demonstrate God’s love so effectively to those watching us.
Two weeks after that meal from Olsens, James and I were heading to bed when I got a text message from Wendy Vandyke.
So-and-so said meals this week would be helpful. Please let me know if you are able to help.
Sign me up, I replied.
My own family had just been on the receiving end of our church’s thoughtful caring. Now I was fully recovered and it was my turn--my privilege--to be the giver.