By Paige Bittle
“What’s becoming clearer and clearer to me is that the most sacred moments, the ones in which I feel God’s presence most profoundly, when I feel the goodness of the world most arrestingly, take place at the table.” – Bread and Wine by Shauna Niequist
As a church, we participate in Feed My Starving Children every year. We sign up for shifts with our life groups, don our hair nets, and scoop rice and dried vegetables into bags every year. We dance around, scooping and sealing as fast as we can; we laugh and sweat and by the end of two hours we are tired but happy. We walk out of the building, throwing our hair nets in the garbage (or keeping them if you are into that kind of thing), and we know that we have done our part- we’ve helped feed hungry kids from places all around the world.
I’ve been reading Bread and Wine by Shauna Niequist, and I’ve been thinking a lot about food. Thinking about food is not an unusual thing for me (just ask anyone who knows me), but I’ve been thinking specifically about the idea of eating food together. As a lifelong foodie, the dinner table is my happy place. I love sharing laughter and stories over burgers hot off the grill, or spending quiet mornings at the coffee shop with a close friend. The act of sharing a meal is sacred. It is nourishing, for our bodies and souls. There is fellowship and love and hope in food. Jesus used meals to connect with people, all sorts of people, sharing His teaching over bread and wine.
As I was preparing to do my yearly shift at Feed My Starving Children, I kept going back to that idea. I kept thinking about each person who would eat the food we packed into bags. I wondered about the people they would share their meals with- siblings, or friends, or neighbors. I thought about how each meal represented not only nourishment, but also an opportunity for fellowship, and how in a way, since we all were preparing these meals, we would be participating in that fellowship.
In that moment, packing meals became more than simply doing our part; it became an opportunity to connect. Each vacuum-sealed bag became an invitation, a way for hungry kids to sit down and eat food together. In that moment, I prayed for each scoop of rice, each ladle of dried vegetables. I prayed that they would nourish the kids who ate each bite, of course, but also that each meal would be an invitation for fellowship and friendship, an opportunity to come together, to share laughter, hope and a meal.
“If you can satiate a person’s hunger, you can get a glimpse of their heart. There’s an intimacy in it, in the meeting of needs and filling of one’s stomach, that is, necessarily, tied to the heart.” – Bread and Wine by Shauna Niequist
If you’re interested in discovering ways to serve and connect with those in need on a more regular basis, check out bath.graceohio.org/giveitaway or email Sunni (firstname.lastname@example.org) to get some help starting the process!