Tuesday, October 18, 2011
"And if you give even a cup of cold water to one of the least of my followers, you will surely be rewarded." Matthew 10:42
Last Friday evening the monthly community meal called The Gathering Place attracted the largest group of guests since we began -- well over 100 people. It was a rainy evening but people were lined up outside well before the doors usually open. We let them in early and soon the St. Paul's hall was filled with conversation and laughter. Before we began we sang Happy Birthday to one of the regulars and as always one of the pastors from a participating congregation said the blessing.
This time we recruited servers from St. Paul's as we begin a rotation of assistance from the different churches. We already have a dedicated core group from our congregation who work with regulars from several other church families. On Friday nine or ten of our youth and six or seven adults served. One of the teens has volunteered at an Oshawa community meal where they serve a lot more people, cafeteria style, and he commented to his parents that he liked how people at The Gathering Place are served their food on nice plates. The room was decorated with a Fall theme and it was yet another excellent meal with turkey and ham.
I noticed Friday that some of the guests who tend to be, well, monosyllabic, spoke to me and smiled. Building trust and familiarity doesn't happen overnight. I was pleased that representatives from several congregations came to see how this all unfolds. One was a woman who wondered recently if all the people who show up really need this meal. Our administrator, Helen, told her that anyone who comes is treated equally, because they have chosen to be there. There is no means test. We continue our commitment to dignity and hospitality in Christ's name for whomever comes.
Several blog readers have volunteered over this past year. Any comments? Thoughts from others?