Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Sandwich ministry

We live in Dulce, New Mexico on the reservation of the Jicarilla Apache Nation, in the parsonage next to the church where I am the pastor.  In the 3½ months we have been here we have seen a lot of people passing through this piece of property, as our home is on a walking route between a residential area and the more central parts of town.

In the first few months we saw lots of people pass through.  We spent a fair amount of time outside and always said "Hi."  Every once in a while we had an opportunity to talk with someone.  And there have been a few times when people have stopped at the back door, asking for help, which Robin has written about here.

Tonight was one of those times.

I was washing dishes after supper and the door bell rang.  I went out and opened the door but no one was there.  As I glanced around a man called out to me, standing in the dark a short ways from the house. 

He asked for a sandwich.  I said sure.  Would peanut butter and jelly be okay?  It would.  What's your name?  He told me something I couldn't quite understand.  I invited him inside.  He wanted to wait outside.

So I went in and made a sandwich and got him an apple from the refrigerator. 

When I returned with the sandwich he was standing off in the dark.  I walked out to meet him and gave him the food.  We made brief small talk about the weather.  Today started well below zero and is headed back there again tonight, although he didn't think it was that cold.  He was on his way to a relative's house somewhere in the neighborhood on the hill behind the parsonage, and he quickly went on his way.

It is my privilege to lead God's people in worship each week.  It is my privilege to dig into the Bible and bring a message from it to those who gather in church each Sunday.  It is my privilege to meet with people in their homes and at the hospital and to pray with them there.  And it was my privilege tonight to provide a neighbor with a small meal. 

Some of these things I do with more skill than others.  I hope that in each of these things, and any other way I serve God here in Dulce, that I am pointing not towards myself but to God, who has called our family to serve Him here among the Jicarilla Apache.

In the closing section of his first letter to the Corinthians, Paul writes:

"Let all that you do be done in love."

In his use of the word "love" Paul means something much deeper and richer than what we might ordinarily think of.  He means a love that is distinctly flavored by the love he has received from God through Jesus Christ.  He means something like this: "Let all that you do be done in love, the love that God has lavished on you and me through His Son, our Lord and Savior."

May this be the love that comes out in the big and little things of my ministry.  And may it be the love that permeates the details of your life too, even something as simple as making a sandwich for someone at your back door.

Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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