We had more food than we knew what to do with. Trader Joe’s had dropped off a truck load of bread at our church’s food pantry, and we didn’t begin to have the room to store it. We needed to give it away.
“Let’s set up a table right here in front of the church,” some of the volunteers said. “We’ll put a sign up and tell everyone, ‘free food.’”
We pushed open the big blue doors and started unloading the boxes and bags. More bananas than I’d ever seen in my life, plastic cartons of salad, fresh raspberries and bread–bags and bags of bread.
Pumpernickel, whole-wheat, sour-dough, hot-dog buns, English muffins, bran muffins, raisin bread, sprouted wheat, white bread, low-sodium bread, white bread.
For the next two hours we called to everyone who walked by, “Come on in. Free food! Free bread! Help yourselves.” People filled up their shopping bags, went back home and filled up more bags. And there was still more to give away.
“Come back and worship with us tomorrow,” we said. Help yourselves, I thought. That’s what we hoped to offer to anyone coming through these days any day of the week. Help, hope, comfort, reassurance, food for the long journey of life.
At morning’s end we took off our aprons and our gloves, gathered up the empty boxes and bags, and congratulated ourselves for a job well done. “See you tomorrow,” we said.
Then I walked back through the church and paused as I read the words written in gold letters above the altar: “I am the bread of life. He who comes to me shall not hunger, and he who believes in me shall never thirst.”
Bread and the Bread of Life. The perfect gifts on a brilliant sunny December day in Advent. Food for the body and food for the soul.