If the second week of Advent was about the music, then this week was about food. That sounds rather shallow and not having anything to do with the birth and life of Jesus, but let me explain.
In the reading of a chapter a day from the Gospel of Luke, of course I came across the story of Jesus feeding the five thousand people who came to hear him teach. So, he was conscious and sensitive to a person’s physical needs as well as the spiritual. His instructions in Matthew 25 to take care of the ‘least of these brothers and sisters of mine’ is foremost in everyone’s mind this time of year. There are many opportunities to follow this precept.
At my work office, we chose two families for whom to buy food for the holidays (and hopefully beyond). These families have children who will receive gifts through the angel tree program. Employees who want to participate are asked to bring $10 worth of food or household items or to donate $10 to the cause. In years past many have found it easy to throw some money at the project and leave it to the secretary in charge to do the shopping. But this year, the spirit was different somehow. The box that previously held copy paper quickly filled and another was added. Each day the bounty grew. Every single employee participated. Many obviously spent more than $10. The boxes set out for donations were in my line of vision and it was awe-inspiring for me to see the outpouring of generosity from the people I work with every day. Folks would stop by, survey the contents of the boxes, and say, “They need more …” or “They would probably like …” and return to the store to add to the provisions. Before school dismissed for the Christmas break, the abundant supply of groceries and sundry items (8 boxes full) was sent to the children’s schools to be delivered to the families.
On Wednesday night, the United Methodist Women cooked and served at the usual meal for the church (Worship on Wednesdays). Methodist women across the world are wonderful cooks and over the years have made a ton of money for missions selling cookbooks. The UMW prepared the food, chicken spaghetti and a variety of vegetables and desserts, and those attending paid $5 to eat. The funds raised were designated for Camp Aldersgate, a camp in Little Rock for children with medical or physical conditions or developmental delays. This camp is supported in part by the United Methodist Church through our mission giving. This meal served two purposes: provide a time of fellowship for our church family and contribute funds to a worthwhile project. Also, after dinner, we were treated to a program of Christmas music by the FUMC Praise Band.
Okay – regarding secular ‘food of the season’ events, I went to parties on Monday, Tuesday and Friday that involved me making a dish to take and share. Potlucks, as they are known. This is where people bring food, eat a ton of it and still have some left to take home. No one knows how it works out this way. It’s a Southern think, I think.
Food is a part of our Christmas traditions. May your holiday treats stick to your ribs and not your thighs.