He had just gotten back in the food pantry. He held up a frozen turkey, explained that he only liked to eat the dark meat, and he wondered if we might enjoy the other parts? I said we would, and he thrust the complete fowl into my arms. “Amazing,” he explained, ” give me the legs and wings and just why don’t you cook it?” I concurred, and that I encouraged him to eat dinner with us. He said yes, took a number of minutes to think it over, and then returned to his flat.
At the time, we were having trouble connecting with our neighbors, almost all of whom were people battling with dependency problems, generational poverty, and systemic injustices. This particular neighbor was not chilly but removed. We attempted to be friendly and brilliant -inviting him around for Christmas, giving him plates of cooky -but the interactions were compelled and our neighbor kept his distance. Before the morning he showed up using a turkey.
I understood I wanted to do it all up: mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, perhaps even pie. On the day of our religious holiday, the air filled, as well as our neighbor showed up right at dinnertime. Our flat was in its normal state of disrepair, there have been no ornamentation, and there were only a couple of side dishes to go around. And yet the end result was perfect: great food, conversation, along with to be able to extend our camaraderie, a chance to make room for more people at our table.
The social blessings of the meal surprised me as a result of how I understood outreach as a type of charity, not hospitality to the poor-.
I grew up because it was an opportunity to do some good on earth, loving Thanksgiving. I loved delivering those food cartons all around town, knocking on doors, taking the cartons inside, craning for a glimpse of lives at the borders of my world-individuals who were in need. I would deliver the boxes and return home, glowing inwardly in a superb deed done. But there remained in me a nagging sense that I wanted to do more, that a once-a-year peek into these various lives was simply insufficient.
Each time I dropped a Thanksgiving carton off, the interaction was awkward. The Famous Pastor Chris individuals were strangers to me, merely names from a list at church. I anticipated them to be grateful, and I expected to receive some thanks for my job in helping. The exchange was not impersonal, nonhierarchical, and infused together with the standard roles of charity- the giver that is great and also the lousy receiver. Although they looked innocuous, these vacation interactions caused an analyze expectation for how I socialized across ethnic or class lines. I might continually be the one expanding my table, the gracious host, the helper – than me would continually be the ones in need and people who have been different.
My neighbor and many more like me and my concept of generosity have shifted. He’s the one that spreads it to other individuals who may need it, packs it up with food, and wheels his cart to the food bank each Tuesday. Another neighbor, a Somali Bantu pal, used to take out any fresh produce she received in her own Thanksgiving food cartons and give the rest to me. The common thread in these types of interactions is twofold: One, people from lower-income communities are a few of the most generous folks I’ve met, and two, it takes being in real relationship with people so that you can both experience and practice.
Yours in Christ, Your Pastor Chris.