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Do You Have Anything Here to Eat?

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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Lend A Hand … Give A Cloak

By Nancy A. Clark

The phrase lend a hand took on new meaning when my sister and I volunteered ours to help a neighbor implement his plan to build a sidewalk. Bingo Barney- BB, for short – was a “giver” who was always there when others needed assistance. Now it was his turn to receive.

We girls offered to work as BB’s kitchen crew for the day when six strong men would invest their time and muscles into building a 30-foot long walkway between BB’s driveway and his front door. Bingo Barney, who earned his nickname for yelling “BINGO” when his beloved Pittsburgh Pirates scored a run, dubbed us The Sissy Crew (pun intended). He gave us free reign to create a sustainable lunch for his real work crew, as long as the menu consisted of a battery of baloney sandwiches, a pile of potato chips and a ton of Twinkies. Thirst quenchers included pitchers of iced water, cans of cold soda, and tall, dark-colored glass bottles bearing a Schlitz label. The labor-intensive half of BB’s DIY Dream Team would toil in high humidity and 90-degree July heat, conditions that demanded all the fortification the crew could get.

Project day dawned as expected, but the expected work crew did not: only my hubby reported for duty that morning. Consequently, game plan changes were necessary, and our modus operandi as baloney builders quickly expanded to include sidewalk building.

Wiser women would have read the writing on the wall and said, “See ya later, alligator.” Instead, we ran directly to the driveway next door where a virile young man was preparing to polish his 1972 sky blue Chevy Chevelle SS Coup. We offered enticements – i.e. a free lunch and a cool dip in BB’s backyard pool – if he joined our team, but no cigar. (He said he wasn’t into baloney.)

So we kissed common sense and our manicures goodbye and donned oversized pairs of orange flannel Monkey-Face work gloves. BB’s motley crew of three would have to work fast and furious to get ‘er done in one day as BB had rented a portable cement mixer for just 24 hours.

Gender equality was askew here, but what the hey.

BB, who suffered a chronic back problem, easily slipped into the role of overseer, and my mate took the helm at the cement mixer. There, he blended “girl grunt”- sized portions of dry cement, sand, gravel and water in the belly of the rickety machine. When he was satisfied with the mix, he tipped the “tumbler” and poured the lumpy batter into a wheelbarrow. Sis and I took turns pushing the wheelbarrow to sections of one-by-six- inch form boards that outlined the proposed walkway. Whichever of us was the “barrow pusher” dumped the batter and, using a large garden hoe, coaxed the goop into the space between the boards. Huffing and puffing in the equatorial-like heat, Sis and I alternated roles as “barrow pusher” and “finisher” – the latter working on hands and knees to level out and smooth over the wet surface.

By mid-morning, a well-padded lawn chair beckoned B.B. to sit beneath the shade of an old oak tree. There he snoozed contentedly… the brim of his fishing hat catawampus on his balding pate, a corpulent bumble bee circling the narrow neck of the brown bottle listing in his right hand. At least one of this crew had the good sense to get out of the sun.

Nineteen hours and no-lunch later, when the last batch of gravel gravy was blended, poured, spread and “finished,” three exhausted toilers dropped like stones to the ground and groaned without ceasing. An alert and refreshed BB surveyed (by flashlight) the length of the finished walkway and proclaimed it “a work of art.” Then he acknowledged the skill and strength of the bedraggled artists, declaring us to be “strrrrong, like bull.” From our supine position and semi-conscious state, we cared not whether he was referencing our endurance or our de‘stink’tive scent.

Time has blessed my muscles with memory loss as regards that project-most-arduous; but I pass on, for your consideration, these conclusions forever ingrained in my brain: (1) Volunteer scripturally –be prepared to give your cloak, too; (2) Thirty feet long is no baloney; and (3) Respect the bull – even if you’re standing downwind. For all you know, he may have just spent a day – and a night – building a sidewalk.

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