Lection Connection

January 29, 2023: Beautiful Vision

Fraser Macnaughton

 

Sara Miles is the founder and director of The Food Pantry and serves as Director of Ministry at St. Gregory of Nyssa Episcopal Church in San Francisco. In her book Take This Bread: A Radical Conversion, she explores what it means to her that Jesus has given us all the challenge of “being Jesus.” He gives us the power and presence to feed the hungry. Just as the disciples were astonished by this grace, so are modern day Christians. It is far easier to relax with our beliefs in Jesus than to be Jesus to our family, friends, co-workers, and strangers.

 

It is at the pantry at St. Gregory of Nyssa Episcopal Church where Miles discovered that ordinary people can do Jesus’ work. Nirmala, a Chilean woman says, “It’s an ashram here. This isn’t just a food place. It’s a spiritual place. The pantry is spiritual nourishment”

 

As Sarah Miles says, “Just give the people something to eat, just touch them, just say you’re sorry. And our lives had changed. I felt more blessed. It didn’t come from the sky, but from plates of enchiladas, the bruises of strangers, frustration and tears. Follow me,’ Jesus had said: just give the people something to eat.”

 

All across the UK and in many other countries, the rise of foodbanks and the provision of hot meals by Christian communities are providing much needed blessings to people in poverty. One of many examples is in Northern Ireland where the Footprint Women’s Centre and Marianne Daly have turned to an ancient staple to help the women of west Belfast weather the cost-of-living crisis: lentils. The staple helps to fill out curries and sauces in a much cheaper way than meat. The charity FareShare, which gathers surplus supermarket stock that would otherwise end up in landfill, provides goods collected in a chilled van, which are then stacked on shelves to be sold at a nominal price, making the difference for many families between eating or not eating.

 

One of the important aspects of many of these community resources is changing people’s eating assumptions away from expensive ready-made meals, often not very nutritious, to teaching women home cooking. As one said, “The cooking courses have taught me how to make decent, healthy dishes for my kids basically out of nothing.”

 

Explore… Matthew 5:1–12

  • How are local foodbanks a blessing in your community?
  • In what ways might you encourage your faith community to help or start a community fridge, foodbank, or soup kitchen; or offer cooking courses?
  • Can you think of other ways in which your group can “be Jesus” to your local community?
  • How might the Beatitudes be implemented meaningfully in your community?

 

Prayer…

In today’s world of growing inequality, it seems to get harder and harder to live out the gospel values of Jesus. But then he did not call us to an easy life. May we continue to be a support and a blessing to one another as we seek individually and as a community to be a blessing to others. Amen.

 

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