By Ray Nierman
So I’m definitely not too great of a Bible scholar. I don’t read my Bible regularly like I should. I’ve forgotten many of the verses I learned in my 8th grade confirmation class, and I haven’t learned too many new ones since then. However, one of Jesus’ most important points that I specifically remember is to take care of those in need. Often, we interpret that as telling EVERYONE about the love and grace of God, which is most definitely one way of caring for all the world. But the Bible doesn’t just say, “Go out and tell the world about God.” It says, “Take care of the world.” At one point, John the Baptist says, “Anyone who has two shirts should share with the one who has none, and anyone who has food should do the same” (Luke 3:11).
I don’t know about everyone else, but as someone who has a couple sweatshirts, a jacket, a coat, and who knows when my next meal is going to be, this passage makes me feel pretty guilty. It smacks me in the face each time when I realize I’m not actually doing much to help those who are less fortunate than me. Community service events have always been fun, but oftentimes they’re just one-time things, like our Habitat for Humanity event was supposed to be earlier this year.
That’s definitely why I’m so excited about working with Barnabas Community Soup and Clothing Kitchen (not its official name, but you get the point). When a group of us went to help out a couple of Thursdays ago, it was fun. At first it was fun because we got to hang out with each other while also doing good for our community. That second part really came into focus when people started arriving for the meal. Some came in a bit early to hang out and helped us set up the food for everyone else. Others came right on time for food and stayed for worship. But every single one of them was hugely grateful. You could see it in their eyes, or just hear it in their voices when they said, “Thank you.” We were able to do good and help relieve a lot of stress on the two or three people who make a meal for 40 people every Thursday.
One of the most impactful parts of my whole Barnabas experience was the worship. When the pastor asked for prayers, people participated. They came forward with prayer requests like they weren’t uncomfortable putting their business out there, which I know I am usually worried about during service. They trusted us, they trusted each other, and they were quickly able to swallow pride and admit to us and to God that they needed our prayers. And I really appreciated that.
Lastly, I just kept thinking during service about how much better I felt, and I think I finally figured out why. We spend so much time preaching God’s love to others, telling them they should come to church with us and hang out at St. Marks, but how much time do we spend showing God’s love. God’s love is not an intangible thing; we can feel it, and we should always strive to pass it on in response to God’s infinite love for us. So let’s pass it on together. That’s what I’m trying to do better at, and I know this community will support me in that effort.