July 15, 2019

July 15, 2019

July 15, 2019
James 2:1-4
by Millie Meese
Laity of Cokesbury UMC
Smoky Mountain District

Jesus was no respecter of persons; he treated all people as worthy children of his Father without regard to their rank, status, or perceived importance. Rich or poor, sick or healthy, young or old, Jew or Gentile, or even Samaritan, any who were willing to receive Jesus were equal in his sight.

Years ago, I was responsible for the food for Cokesbury’s recovery ministry. My husband and I, along with four or five regular team members prepared a heavy hors d’oeuvres snack supper for the three hundred plus who attended every Thursday evening. It was obvious that many who came had not eaten dinner, and needed the food to help them be able to settle into the worship service. There were people from every station in society: professional people all the way to homeless people whom we transported from Knoxville Area Rescue Ministries downtown. The important thing was that they were all made welcome. The food was not the most important thing by any means, but it was part of the total experience of welcome and love everyone felt when entering.

I was given free rein on what to serve, so I explored my options in the local buying club’s food section. Giant blocks of cheese, enough crackers to feed my family and yours for weeks, and fruits and veggies were piled into my basket, but I needed something else. I tried to put myself in the place of stigmatized strangers entering a church and about to admit to a huge crowd the addiction that had brought them there. I was looking for something to give comfort and I suddenly spied that special something extra I had been seeking–frozen cookie dough in giant boxes.

When we baked those cookies, the aroma filled the building and coaxed our visitors down the hall and through the doors. We baked many thousands of those cookies each year and there was never a crumb left. People would come to me with tears in their eyes and say, “Nobody has baked me cookies since I was a kid!” Needless to say, the cookies flowed like a river during weekly encounters with new friends expressing those same sentiments.

Whatever gives comfort and healing is what we as Christians are called to give and we are not to be respecters of persons. Okay, so your gift isn’t baking cookies, but you might offer a cheerful, welcoming smile, or transportation, or assistance writing a resume, or tutoring, or donating to the food pantry. Whatever it is, your gift is priceless!

Prayer: O Lord, we want to be like you. It’s not easy; it never has been. Give us empathy for all those we meet so that we might be Your hands and feet no matter where we are. Amen.