The mission focus strikes me as funny, in some ways. The Salvation Army must be as far as far can be from Episcopal liturgy and theology. But the Salvation Army here has the only homeless shelter in town, the only regular food ministry in our community. Our parish built a prayer garden on their grounds a couple years ago. This year, with support from our diocese, we built a playground for the children who live in their facility. So the vestry is building on a relationship that we have built slowly, and it feels right (if slightly incongruous and surprising).
In the last few days, with Thanksgiving Day looming, I suddenly had a thought: I could volunteer to help serve the Thanksgiving meal at the Salvation Army. No guilt about the undeserved plenty I enjoy. No angst about family. I could spend the day giving thanks and sharing blessings instead of stuffing my mouth with food I don’t actually need nowadays.
Mind you, that notion pushed me far outside my comfort zone. While I recognize I could have been one of the homeless not long ago, I also feel deeply inadequate to serve in this ministry. In the past few weeks in my parish, I have beseeched our leadership to equip people like me for this ministry. I don’t know how to do it. I feel wholly inept and unprepared. What can I offer? The Peace of the Lord and a heap of mashed potatoes? Maybe. That doesn’t sound so bad to me, actually.
I went to the Salvation Army this afternoon to give them a smoked turkey I had bought, and I talked with one of their volunteer coordinators. She made me feel inspired – that I can do this.
I feel inept. But I am also hopeful to think I can step outside my comfort zone.
So that’s where I’ll be tomorrow, starting at 9 a.m. Preparing food and serving. And you know what? Having no “Thanksgiving invitation,” early today I had tried to make a little grocery list of what I could make as a faux feast for myself. Now … I am looking forward to sharing a meal tomorrow with the folks at the Salvation Army Center. Weird as it seems to me, I’m looking forward to this more than I’ve looked forward to any Thanksgiving in a very long time.
Not about me! THANKS BE TO GOD!
I’ll let you know how it goes. I pray I’ll lose myself once I get into it. If you’re still up, please say a little prayer for me. As I've said too many times, this is going to push me outside my comfort zone. But I want to be pushed. I need to be pushed.