Listen To Article
One of my favorite parts of my workweek takes place on Tuesday nights 4:00-5:30. It’s a time when we swing wide open the sanctuary doors of the church and invite all sorts of people in for a meal. It’s a time I feel The Holy the most tangible which is weird because it’s kind of messy; imperfection is the norm during these 90 minutes.
All sorts of people step into our house of worship on Tuesdays: people who have been chronically homeless for 12 years and know the rules of the street, people who are new to living on the street and I can see the anxiety of this new life in their eyes, people who use their body to sell sexual favors, people who wreak of alcohol, people who can’t stop testifying about what the Lord has done in their life and they know God is good (though they call the concrete their pillow), people who are mean, people who want to pick a fight, people who smell real bad, people who have a home but it’s dang expensive to live in NYC so they come to soup kitchens for their food, black people, white people, brown people, transgender, gay, straight, and some who think being gay is an abomination, volunteers who want nothing to do with religion, and volunteers who find their religious identity in serving, and then there is me – the minister.
For ninety minutes we all gather together breaking bread; it’s Eucharistic.
As we were nearing the close of our meal together one of my “street peeps” came up to me and asked if we had any more pudding cups. He said that he received an applesauce cup that day and, while he was thankful for that, the chocolate pudding cups are his favorite. I turned around and asked one of my volunteers to see what we could find. As she was sifting through the food I realize that under most circumstances I would find this request annoying or even a bit entitled. I would think, “you received food, now you want to be picky about what dessert cup you receive?” If I were to take that posture in this circumstance, which is all too easy for me, I would actually be hindering grace.
The people of my congregation on Tuesday night live a difficult life, overall. Even as I write this I hear the winter winds rushing by my window and I think of my street peeps where wind is rushing in their face, not window. Maybe a pudding cup is not just a pudding cup but maybe it was a very symbol of God’s decadent grace; who am I to stand in the way of that?
Grace that tastes like chocolate pudding, I can get behind that!
You hit the nail on the head , Jes , the crowd at the West End Collegiate soup kitchen is awesome and diverse and the Bible Study with those fellow travelers is something to learn from and to listen to …this is the melting pot of the street people of nyc mixing in with the hungry struggling who can barely afford rent , but can't buy enough food … They at "eating out " at the church on Tuesday afternoon and they are mostly very thankful… They at not all happy , a few are quite angry … but they are in need of care and loving kindness… it is easy to love them. I miss them and the Tuesday prayer meeting the pastor used to have every Tuesday , a midweek get together that kept me together ,, as well as Wed. morning Communion if I could roll out of bed eearly enough and make it across B'way safely to see KAG & Company … the regulars always showed up for midweek services , they were so worth it.