Mr. Bee and I are in a small group at our church. We gather twice a month on Monday nights for fellowship and Bible study. It’s been a great way to meet new people and make new friends outside of our regular Sunday school class. We may have different beliefs, but our commonality is that we love God and want to seek ways we can be closer to Him.
Every Thursday Broadway Baptist Church hosts an Agape Meal for the homeless and people needing a hot meal and a place to be feel God’s love and a since of belonging. Agape means love. So, it’s a love banquet for God’s people. The church has offered this ministry for over 20 years serving 175 guests, 51 weeks of the year only taking the day off on Thanksgiving when many churches and organizations offer a meal.
Tonight, our small group worked as volunteers to help serve as table hosts and servers. As we drove into the parking lot, there were already guests waiting in line to receive a ticket. I suddenly felt overwhelmed thinking about our election and the very people that have been the topic of conversation — the poor and homeless — were right before me. Many people were carrying duffel bags and suitcases with all of their belongings. The streets or a shelter were their next stop after dinner.
When we walked into the fellowship hall, each table was covered in cloth linens set with china, glass and silverware, a centerpiece of real flowers and bowls of home cooked, hot food. Tonight’s menu was King Ranch casserole, corn, green beans, bread, salad and spice cake. The mission each week is to treat each guest with dignity, kindness and respect.
Before the meal, the pastor gave a welcome and a prayer. As we recited the Lord’s Prayer, everyone knew it! The entire room, not just the volunteers and staff, recited the simplest of prayers we learned when we were children. These guests may not have brought much with them of monetary value, but their worth was their faith. They loved God enough to say His prayer out loud and with meaning. It was beautiful.
Then, we got to work serving food, replenishing drinks, bringing out second helpings, and serving dessert and coffee. As you can imagine, the guests were thirsty and wanted seconds of everything. After the meal, worship was offered. About half of the guests stayed for a few hymns, a scripture lesson and communion. The pastor asked that the guests at each table share one thing that God provided for that week, and one thing we needed prayer for. The couple at our table said they were thankful that God provided gas for their car all week. But, they needed cell phone service in order for him to secure employment. Suddenly, my Starbucks pumpkin spice latte didn’t seem that important.
We finished the night with prayer. A simple prayer of asking God for us to be faithful and to have faith. There are some days when faith is all you have to hold onto. And then we sent the guests off into the night.
“If you remain in me and my words remain in you,
ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.” John 15:7