This past Wednesday I filled in at my former field education site, Holy Cross Church in Murfreesboro TN and taught one of the lenten series sessions on a section of the Lord’s Prayer. My section was on “Give us this day our daily bread.” Several events conspired to make the night very interesting indeed, even as they fragmented (from my perspective) my thought process.
One thing that happened to make it an interesting night was that the parishioner who the priest thought would be there to let us into the Parish hall for the class wasn’t able to be there that night and instead we had to meet in the parish, which would have been fine in itself, except that I wasn’t able to copy the handout I had prepared for the occasion. The numbers in attendance were also pretty low (I think some people heard their priest was going out of town :-p ), about 6 people. Nonetheless we had a fruitful discussion of this section of the Lord’s prayer and the biblical understanding of sufficiency, God’s sense of fairness/justice/proportion etc… based upon a reading not only of The Lord’s Prayer, but also on selections of scripture that illustrated certain points, such as Exodus 16, John 6:30-38, Proverbs 30:8-9, Luke 12:16b-21, Matt. 6:25-33 etc…
During the midst of our discussion I noticed a young girl dancing from the narthex into the nave and back again. I then heard whispers coming from the narthex; thinking that this was a case of members, perhaps new, being late and embarrassed about interrupting, I raised my voice and said “you can come on in…”. Of course, the people didn’t. One of the ladies said she would go see what was happening, and in a few moments she came back and asked that I come speak to the people with her. There in the narthex was a mother, father and two (of 8) children asking for groceries so they could make it through Friday. Now, while I did my field education at this church I didn’t know if the priest had any sort of deal worked out with a local food bank or any other arrangement, so I was at a loss in that category…there were some canned goods being collected in the church for the food bank, but nothing that a family of 10 could subsist on for a week. The members of the church there for the lenten series however, decided to take up a collection for the family and gathered approximately $80 among the 6 of them.
I know some people are reading this and thinking that it was foolish to give to these people, that it will make the church a target of vagrants etc… but isn’t that the point? Shouldn’t Christians be known for generosity so great that it appears to be foolishness to the world? And what a testament it is that people actually think to come to a church–to Christians–when they need help…that should give us hope because at least some people are getting the message that Christians are a people who will share God’s love and bounty. And in sharing our blessings by blessing others we have the opportunity to glorify God not only by what we do, but through sharing why we do it at all, sharing our testimony of the saving love of Jesus Christ.
I have no way of knowing how well or poorly the family was managing their money, whether they were lazy or hard workers, but I do know that they needed help, they hadn’t asked for money, but for groceries, and the people of Holy Cross that night were truly blessed in the giving–I believe this family was blessed in the receiving as well…the mother was moved to tears. This probably would not have been the case had we been able to meet in the parish hall as we’d originally planned–the parish hall being a retro-fitted house and not appearing, especially at night, to have anything necessarily to do with the church. So, on a Wednesday night, the lights of a church with people gathered to discuss the word of God attracted a family in need, So on a night we we were talking about the affirmation and petition in the Lord’s prayer “give us this day our daily bread” we were able to provide the same for others.
Doubting Thomas from the album “Why Should The Fire Die?” by Nickel Creek