Serving in Small Group: Meals Part II

We featured a story on serving small group through meals back in April.  Small groups are central to who we are.  Serving within our small groups is pretty far up there on the list of things we hold near and dear.  Your small group may not be meeting this summer but now might be a good time to check in with folks and see how you can serve them.

So, here's Melissa to tell you why she cares so much about serving through meals.

I could write volumes on how deeply I feel about the custom in our small groups here at Grace Fellowship Church to provide food for each other during times of trial or change. Of all of the ways that I have experienced the tender arms of my Father wrapping around me in comfort and care, this way of His to prompt other women to serve my family through food has been one of the most humbling and powerful for me.

Two years ago, there was a day when my oldest and youngest sons were both in separate hospitals an hour’s drive apart, one recovering from an emergency surgery and the other having an outpatient ear procedure. My husband Ben stayed with our oldest while I headed north with the baby, and left our two middle children with loved ones. Ben and I returned home that afternoon with our sleepy boys in tow and found a steaming pot pie on the porch swing – a piping hot gift of love wrapped in my friend Kate’s from-scratch crust.

Two months ago, I began experiencing a health crisis that sprang out of [what felt like] nowhere, dug in its heels for several weeks, and then flittered off as if it had never been there. Women – friends of mine from various small groups that we have attended through our years at Grace, mostly – began appearing at my door, arms laden with dinner. Tucked into boxes of homemade meals were index cards filled with Scripture – powerful verses telling of those saints who came before, suffering yet clinging to the truth. Roasted chicken. Offers of child care. Stew and worship songs and my sadness broken up into pieces and borne by these lovely, godly women who served me. All of them giving out of needs and grocery budgets and time constraints of their own, not from a place of excess.

Through the years since, we have been the recipients of many meals. And I have had the enormous pleasure of delivering some dinners myself. There are many times when it is appropriate to nurture each other through food; when this simple act of kindness can change someone else’s day, the season that they are entrenched in, maybe their life. When we are celebrating a new little one, of course. But also when we are grieving a death. When we are sick or when we are caring for a sick child. During frightening times of emergency or weary seasons of exhaustion. When we are at the beginning or end of a pregnancy. When we have lost a little one somewhere in between. During these times, we still need to carry on. We need to eat. We need to feed our families. We need each other. We need the love of God to pour out on us in this tangible way.

The fare needn’t be lavish. Bowls of beans and rice. A favorite soup or stew. Your mom’s lasagna recipe or even the one on the back of the spaghetti sauce jar. A loaf of bread, warm and simple. Comfort food in the truest sense. We accept our ability to mix ingredients in the kitchen as a tool to extend God’s love. When we have nothing to give, we have food and we have the love of God prompting us to load it in our minivans and deliver it to someone who needs to be nurtured. We chop vegetables and make a sauce. We sauté and boil and bake. We whisk and stir and offer up fragments of prayer as we go for the recipients of our efforts.

We rap on the door and when it opens, we extend ourselves. We hold out a lasagna and a note of concern or congratulations or encouragement. We listen. We embrace. We pray together. We leave baking instructions and maybe a plate of cookies.  We serve each other and so serve Him.

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