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Do You Have Anything Here to Eat?

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By Rev. Cindy Parker

“While in their joy they were disbelieving and still wondering, he said to them, ‘Have you anything here to eat?’”

I receive the United Church of Christ devotional every morning on my computer, and there was a Reflection by Martin B. Copenhaver titled, “Do you have anything here to eat?” In it he mentions that:

Jesus asks a lot of questions in the gospels — 307, to be exact. Even when the risen Christ appears to the disciples, he is still asking questions. And if Jesus were to ask questions when he returns, don’t you think he’d ask the important ones? Maybe he’d ask what you’d been up to? Maybe he’d ask how you have shown love to your neighbor? But one question Jesus asks, according to Luke’s gospel is: “Do you have anything here to eat?”

What do you think about that? That doesn’t sound like the question that the Risen Lord would ask. I have three teenaged daughters, and it sounds more like the question one of my girls would ask as they arrived home from school. Those of us that are parents know that question well, because we’ve heard it over a million times! “MOM—do we have anything here to eat?”

So his disciples give Jesus a piece of broiled fish, and he eats it. Apparently, rising from the dead really works up an appetite. Who knew? Get this guy something to eat!

So what’s going on here? Well, for one, it’s a way for Luke to assure us that Jesus’ presence is real. He isn’t a ghost.

But, knowing Jesus, the follow-up question is this: “Does your neighbor have anything to eat?” After all, this is the same Jesus who taught us to pray, “Give us this day our daily bread.” Not my daily bread, but our daily bread. In this prayer that we pray almost every week at Christ and St. John’s churches, is the radical idea that your neighbor’s need is not very different from your own need. There is only our need.

“Does your neighbor have anything to eat?”

This weekend the youth Group is going to spend 30 hours fasting. After dinner on Friday night they will not eat again until Sunday morning. Why are they doing this you might ask? They are going without food so they know what it feels like to be hungry, not just tummy rumbling, I need a snack hungry, but tired down to the bones hungry. The type of hunger that kills a child every 10 seconds, more than 22,000 children die every day and globally more than 925 million people are hungry.

But hunger is not just a statistic, it is somebody’s daughter, sister, brother. There are people that don’t have enough to eat right here in our own community.

I spoke with one of the principles of a local elementary school, and she told me that there are programs during school to help with free breakfasts and lunches, but she worries about the kids over the summer. The Greater Latrobe ministerium is working together with volunteers to make sure these kids don’t go hungry this summer.

“Does your neighbor have anything to eat?”

My daughters have seen the need in this community when they volunteered with Fresh Express. This is a program that local churches sponsor alongside the Westmoreland County Foodbank and local food stores. An 18 wheeler pulls up in the parking lot of Prince of Peace Lutheran church and volunteers separate food into cate-gories. If you weren’t aware that we have hungry people in Latrobe, all you have to do is look at the huge line of people waiting with their boxes, laundry baskets and wagons.

“Does your neighbor have anything to eat?”

My daughter, Lauren, has been so touched by the people she has met through Fresh Express she wants to do more. She is in the process of earning her Gold Award through Girl Scouts. She intends to do all she can to help alleviate hunger in her community. One way she wants to help is through giving. She asked the congregations of Christ and St. John’s churches as well as her family and friends to donate food. She has helped distribute the senior food boxes and was dismayed by how little they contain.

In support of her, the Lay Life & Mission committee has stepped up to collect food from the congregation to help others. We, as a church community and the body of Christ, will collect special foods with a theme. Spaghetti for dinner and Breakfast for dinner are the two Lauren came up with because that’s what she likes to eat! We have the opportunity to help our brothers and sisters in need right here in our own community.

“Does your neighbor have anything to eat?”

It is said that after German bombers destroyed an English cathedral during the Second World War, dedicated volunteers worked to repair one of the church’s broken statues of Christ. Rather than restore the figure’s missing hands, the artisans left Christ handless-replacing the artwork’s “Come unto Me” inscription with “Christ has no hands but ours.”

We are called to be Christ’s presence in the world today.

St. Teresa of Avila , who was born in Spain, and entered a Carmelite convent when she was eighteen, wrote a prayer that so beautifully illustrates what Christ is calling us to do:

Christ has no body but yours, 
No hands, no feet on earth but yours,

Yours are the eyes with which he looks Compassion on this world,
Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good,
Yours are the hands, with which he blesses all the world.
Yours are the hands, yours are the feet,

Yours are the eyes, you are his body.

Christ has no body now but yours,

No hands, no feet on earth but yours,

Yours are the eyes with which he looks compassion on this world.
Christ has no body now on earth but yours.

 

Fifteen centuries ago, Saint Benedict wrote that Jesus comes to us disguised in every stranger knocking on the door asking for hospitality and food. And if that is true, the question on his lips surely is: “Do you have anything here to eat?” Amen.

 

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