“The advantage is that we have space and resources to feed 300 people on Christmas.” – when asked why I am still connected to my mega-gathering church
I ended the last post with the thought that I had another reason to love my church, even though I don’t always love the work it takes to attend the mega-gatherings. I have seen first hand how large churches working together can make changes that are substantial.
The mega- gatherings allow me to share love to individuals who NEED it. Sorry for yelling, but I can think of so many people that just NEED an ear, a snack, or a laugh.
For me these people are often called “homeless” even though they have homes—if you define it as places where friends gather. Some have friends and a doorway where they sleep under a tarp. Others have an apartment, but few resources to fill it and too much pride to let people see how bad —empty, dirty, cluttered, cold— it is. Some are insane, clinically, and can’t hold a job, remember to shower, sleep indoors. Some have severe PTSD and just can’t trust anyone any longer which causes problems for the working world.
The reason doesn’t matter because…they are human. These people are simply lacking one thing—resources. Which is sad in a city where often animals are treated and legislated for much more humanely than their under-resourced, under-served (in my strong and semi-well researched opinion) human counterparts…think about that-animals treated more humanely than humans.
Never is that truer than around holidays and Christmas. There are a lot of places for the under-resourced to eat in this city, but their meals often take place in the days before the actual holiday which allows for the volunteers to be with their own families on the holidays. I get the reasoning, but often this brings to mind some suburban family—two parents, two kids, oak table, more food than they need set before them—who went and did their “duty” when it was convenient. Which doesn’t seem like true Christmas to me.
Last year, Christmas was on a Saturday, which is the day we feed about 100-150 people each week. As the new leader, I was asked more than once if we were just skipping that week. I asked if other places would feed, and was generally met with a “probably not”. So after consulting with others, who didn’t say I was crazy and many who were super excited about it, we opened the gym and had a blow out dinner. What better way to celebrate Jesus’ birth and incarnational presence than a massive overflowing feast? God Bless ‘Merica.
In the weeks before I tried to organize it all myself and in the midst realized I wasn’t very good at that. I didn’t know how to feed 300 people a 10 item meal. I knew how to feed 100 people a 40 quart pot of chili. These are very different. But the mega- gathering members were excited and showed up in droves…literally. The under-resourced lined up early and were amazed at the amount of food we had. We had so much that we were giving gallon zip lock bags away to be filled with ham, or turkey, or yams, potatoes, corn, salad, pie, brownies…and I still loaded up my car the next morning and took about 150 pounds of food to a soup kitchen that fed daily. We also gave away socks, toiletries, clothes and hugs. And I learned even when I try hard to mess things up (run everything) I can’t mess it up too bad. At the end of the day, everyone left filled with good food, good laughs and some warm memories. It was Christmas, a party for Jesus and our Neighbor where we were all treated equal and warm and full.
Sounds amazing doesn’t it? It was so amazing that we are doing it again.
On the 25th of December we are once again celebrating Jesus’ humble entrance onto Earth with a humble yet massive dinner and celebration. It won’t be elegant or fancy. Because most of us aren’t and He wasn’t. But it will be fun. It will be humbling as we donate time and food. And it will be CHURCH.
Can I get an Amen?
Listened to / watched Trombone Shorty NPR Tiny Desk Concert while writing