This past year, St. Margaret’s read the book Take This Bread, by Sara Miles. In it, Miles describes a food ministry that she began at her Episcopal Church in San Francisco. At St. Gregory’s, their worship is open – roles are more open, the Eucharistic Table is open, and idea flow in the open. Like Miles was welcomed to the Eucharistic Table without barrier, she wanted to create a food ministry that was without barriers. She didn’t want to have people register or keep records of how often they had received food. She just wanted people to come, get what they need and let them go about their lives. She wanted them to find a sense of dignity and welcome when so few of them experience that in other parts of their lives.
I was reminded of her ministry today when I heard an NPR story about a program in Spain called the Solidarity Fridge. The idea was to create a communal fridge where people who are hungry can come and get what they need. Local restaurants pack up their leftovers in plastic containers and put them in the Fridge each night. Even local grandmas make food for those in need. There are standards in place, including the fact that food cannot stay more than four days. But the organizers insist that it has never been a problem. Tapas come in at night and they are gone by the next morning. There is no monitoring process for the Fridge. Whomever needs food can just come and get it. And the food is really good. Those who are in need find dignity in not being dehumanized by red tape and by being fed superior quality food.
Their program is not unlike a ministry we support at St. Margaret’s called Food Not Bombs. An empty parking lot is suddenly transformed when volunteers arrive with carloads of food from restaurants, grocery stores, churches, and neighbors. People fill grocery bags with what they need and leave to feed their families. When everything is gone, the parking lot empties, without a soul around. The idea from Food Not Bombs is that there is enough food for everyone – and the only reason people go hungry is because of waste and greed. So they work to remedy the situation.
As I was thinking about the confluence of these three ministries, I was thinking of how they are living into the baptismal covenant we make – to respect the dignity of every human being. There are passive ways we can do that – trying not to be judgmental or racist. There are active ways that we can do that – giving money to charities that feed the hungry. But there are intentional ways we can do that too – investing ourselves in ministries that specifically want to honor the dignity in others and that will encourage us to do the same. That is why we make those baptismal promises in the context of community – because we need the community to hold us accountable to the covenant. This Sunday, we will baptize a child of God and renew our own baptismal covenant. I encourage you this week to prayerfully consider what ways you might be more intentional about fulfilling those vows. And if you are struggling, find a member of the community and ask them to work with you. Together, we can transform this world into the kingdom of God here on earth.