Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Stomachs and Souls

Today's reflection talks about the community garden the author has at her church.  This is a very popular activity among Episcopal churches, and churches in general.

This article has a huge list of parishes where churches have either created or sponsored the creation of community gardens.  Our own St. Luke's in Libby will be sponsoring a community garden when the weather gets a bit warmer, and has the Kids' Kitchen going now; St. Michael's and All Angels has a soup kitchen once a week to help feed the community.

An apologetics site, however, makes the purpose of the community garden very clear:
If there’s one focus a Church should have, it’s on evangelism and missions. It’s almost a little redundant to separate those since missions, properly understood, is evangelism. If we’re truly doing the will of the Lord and making disciples of all nations, we can’t do that by giving people clean water without giving them the water of eternal life. We can’t give them bread to fill their stomachs without teaching about the bread from heaven who can fill their souls. We can’t provide shelter from the storm without telling the story of the One who has the power to calm the storms (and I’m talking about literal storms here, not “the storms of life”).

Am I saying we shouldn’t feed the poor, clothe the naked, or be philanthropic in our communities and abroad? Absolutely not! However, we must never sever these actions from evangelism. Evangelism is the only reason the Lord has left us here on earth. Seriously… think about it. What good are we if we take the light given to us and hide it under our beds?
Much of these concepts hearken back to the time when Christ used the loaves and fishes to feed a multitude.  He understood that:
"...it’s really difficult to pay attention to one’s soul if one’s stomach is growling. So, he filled their stomachs hoping—maybe even assuming---that once their stomachs were full, they’d realize just how empty their souls remained. But to do that, to realize how empty we may feel, is not so simple. There’s no definitive signal---like a growling stomach---to tell us we’re spiritually empty, that we need some spiritual nourishment. It takes awhile to figure it out. 
And, apparently, it takes awhile to explain it as well.  In John’s gospel, Jesus spends four Sundays trying to get his followers, those then and us now, to distinguish between physical and spiritual hunger.   It’s annoying as we hear, again, again, again and AGAIN that the manna from Exodus and the multiplication of loaves and fishes in the gospels is nothing…NOTHING compared to The Bread of Life...the bread that is Jesus.
That last quote is taken from a blog by a priest at an Episcopal Church in New York.  The whole blog entry is quite interesting.

So as you work the soil and share with neighbors, remember that even as we help to fill the stomachs, we need to help them fill their souls as well. 


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