The line forms early outside. People stand anxiously awaiting a signal that the doors are open. Inside, the kitchen crew puts finishing touches on the food. The servers are briefed on the logistics of what they can expect; some smile nervously given this is their first time. At approximately 12:30 p.m. the first wave of diners surge through the doors and for the next two hours the pace is frenzied.
The diners eat quickly and efficiently; there is no time for idle chit chat or lingering. The simple truth is others are waiting to eat. Something to eat – it is so basic – but to people living on the streets of downtown Atlanta, having something to eat is a daily struggle. The food is far from sumptuous: hot dogs, baked beans, chips and iced tea, but to the hungry, this is a feast. The sad fact is there no need to fly half way around the world to see people who have no idea where their next meal is coming from; the hungry are in our midst.
It is easy to lose sight of the poor in today’s economic climate. The fact a presidential election is underway doesn’t help matters, rhetoric abounds, but alas, few viable solutions are offered. There are those who say poverty is due to personal failure –a lack of initiative perhaps. But try explaining this point of view to a hungry child, the homeless, the elderly and infirmed the mentally ill; truly these are the least, the last and the lost. Who will care for these?
Trinity Community Ministries (TCM) aided by volunteers from area churches and civic groups feed an estimated 200 plus men, women and children every Sunday at Trinity United Methodist Church in downtown Atlanta. The work is far from glamorous, but the joy the volunteers experience is beyond measure. On this day, a group of volunteers from Cokes Chapel United Methodist Church witness firsthand the face of hunger – not staged or scripted –but real people so poor they cannot afford buy food; many of whom carry all their worldly possessions in backpacks or plastic bags – it is sobering.
Should we care? After all, we’ve done the “right and needful” things: matriculated, worked hard, saved money, etc. As followers of Christ, the answer is obvious: we should care because He cares. Consider:
"Then said he also to him that invited him, When thou makest a dinner or a supper, call not thy friends, nor thy brethren, neither thy kinsmen, nor [thy] rich neighbors; lest they also invite thee again, and a recompense be made thee. But when thou makest a feast, call the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind: And thou shalt be blessed: for they cannot recompense thee: for thou shalt be recompensed at the resurrection of the just…”*
Perhaps individually we cannot prepare a meal for 200 people, but we can respond when the call to assist goes forth; if not with money, we can volunteer to pray with those in need of a spiritual food. When we give from our hearts, no matter how little it may seem, God can and will transform the mundane into the glorious. Even as we serve others, we are told a feast is prepared for all those who have lived in faithful obedience to God.
“Then the angel said to me, "Write: 'Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!'" And he added, "These are the true words of God." **
Amen and amen.
If you would like to know more, please contact TCM at (404) 577-6651or http://tcmatlanta.org
*Luke 14:12-14 – Webster’s Bible
* Revelation 19:9 – New International Version