Sometimes you wake up and say to yourself: “Where has the time gone?”
This week, we celebrate the 25th anniversary of Lunch Together/Soup Kitchen. Can’t be? I remember the first lunch served, or, one of them anyway. Potato soup. A small band of people had gotten together to fix lunch for whoever might show up, and we succeeded in clogging up the drain with potato peelings. Not a smooth start. The learning curve was a little steep, but we kept at it.
Back in the early 1990s, the ministerial association began to talk about what we could do to help people in need in our community.
What does the church do well? We cook. We eat well. We bring people together. What does the church have in abundance? We have the best cooks in town. What can we do to help others? Well, we can cook. Why not start a soup kitchen?
But none of us pastors had any experience at operating a soup kitchen. As all lay people know, pastors are worthless. Pastors talk; lay people get the job done.
So, the pastors talked and the lay people went to work to make it happen.
First Congregational United Church of Christ made its building available. We collected donations of bowls, silverware, cups and glasses, and we were in the business of living out our vision: “No one goes hungry in Sheridan County.” Heritage Towers gave us some of their at-the-end-of-their-life refrigerators, someone donated a freezer and then we went begging for food. We got it!
As I reflect on these 25 years, Lunch Together has added to the quality of life in Sheridan in four areas: food, friendship, faith and service.
Food is provided to anyone who wants to eat, Monday through Friday, every week of the year.
Friendship is shared at each meal. Sometimes the same people; most times someone is new, but, always good will is the intention of the room.
Faith has propelled us forward. When people of faith come together for good purposes, good happens, all are blessed. God has done, and continues to do, kind things among us.
Service may be one of the most important aspects to this venture of food, friendship and faith. Whatever assumptions you have about people, good or bad, serving in some capacity will arouse your conscious. When you serve, all kinds of feelings rise up within your soul that beg to be explored. Who knows what blessings you will receive from serving?
You may come out a little more mature, for certain, a lot more humble.
Jesus teaches we are to love our neighbors as ourselves. Lunch Together gives everyone an opportunity to look each other in the eye, to resist the temptation to rush to judgment and to offer ourselves in friendship.
Come join us this Saturday, Feb. 16 at 11:30 a.m. in the sanctuary of First Congregational Church for as we celebrate 25 years of service.
Doug Goodwin serves as pastor at First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in downtown Sheridan.