There is Plenty
On Sunday afternoons, Shelter Church, the little congregation I co-pastor, meets for a meal and worship. Some days we are in the parking lot of a downtown Lutheran church. Other times, when it is too hot, too cold, or too wet, we meet inside in the fellowship hall. ( we may be a fair weather parking lot congregation!) We have a core congregation of about 25 and many weeks that number swells as people come seeking a meal, time with friends, or just to fulfill a growing curiosity about this group meeting in the parking lot being led by two women. It is one of the most rag tag, authentic, beautiful groups of people you will ever meet. I love them dearly. I hope as we journey together, you will come to love them too. It is in this space that I see Jesus up close and personal.
This last Sunday, we had just launched into our sermon on Heaven and Hell when L.A. walked in. I have known LA for years and years. He bounces in and out of homelessness and has a deep relationship with the bottle. He is a collector of all the things, filing his pockets and backpack with picked treasures as he saunters around the downtown giving off a subtle hippie vibe. His long brown hair hangs to the middle of his back and his his clothes cling to his lanky frame. When he removes his sunglasses, you are often treated to a beautiful smile that crinkles the edges of his eyes. He hasn’t been a frequent attender at church. When he showed up a couple of weeks ago, I enthusiastically greeted him and he gave me a huge hug. (He is not a touch-er so this was a big deal!)
This Sunday when he came in he was looking for dinner. As he walked in we stopped the sermon in mid-sentence to welcome him and encourage him to look to see if there was anyone left in the kitchen. He swung the door open and the lights were already off as the meal had concluded 30 minutes before. In his chill way he told us no worries, he would find something somewhere and that’s when our little congregation that could jumped into action. Suddenly there was a plate with an uneaten hotdog and coleslaw, several people offering up chips, a friend pulling out a chair for him to sit in, and someone else pointing him toward the coffee. This was all done without fanfare, in the middle of the sermon- a beautifully choreographed dance of abundance. The kitchen was closed but the table was still open. He smiled his beautiful smile and just kept uttering thank you. He settled in to enjoy his feast and we continued with the sermon. Friends- this happens All.The.Time. in this community. Just when we think there isn’t enough love shows up and there is abundance.
We celebrate communion every Sunday at Shelter Church. For a worshipping community that is centered on the table, the reminders of forgiveness, grace, love, and abundance are at the very root of our existence. We take being fed body, mind, and spirit very seriously! As we shared the bread and the cup, I noticed LA had slipped out. I wondered if he would have taken communion with us. And then, just as Collette and I had given each other communion and we were ready to give the final blessing, I saw LA in the corner of my eye. “Can I have some of that?” he asked? “Of course! There is plenty. LA, the body and blood of Christ given to YOU. ”. I got the crinkly eye smile in return.
How many times in our lives do we worry about not having enough? How many times do we think we have arrived too late, we have walked in to something uncertain, we are at the end of the line? And how many times has God shown up in that moment- with gifts we didn’t know we needed, a community that will stop everything to welcome us, to remind us that God’s love is a deep love of abundance and welcome? What is your mindset today? Is the kitchen closed with the lights out or are you seeing possibility in the love of the people around you? My prayer for you today is that you open your eyes to see the abundance that surrounds you and that you are able to give of what you have and are met with the beauty of a crinkly-eyed smile.