Members on Mission: Mark Snipes – Metro NYC Christmas Lunch

16 Turkeys–That’s A Lot of Bird!

Over the course of 48 hours, eight members from Tabernacle traveled to Metro Baptist, in New York City, to prepare a Christmas lunch for over 300 New Yorkers.

One evening, as I was waiting for three of the turkeys to finish cooking, I sat down with one of the pastors of Metro and asked about the people who would be eating this meal. Pastor Megan said that this was her third time being a part of this meal and she has learned two important lessons about those the church serves: 1. Each person has a unique story; and 2. When you sit and listen, you learn that those you serve have a deep, rich understanding of God.

Pastor Megan went on to say that those who will eat this meal are an assorted group of people. From veterans, some struggling with PTSD and others just unable to reengage with normal society, to people who have made some very bad decisions in life, to those who have just had some hard breaks. Others are people who have recently lost jobs and others who have been disowned from their family for lifestyle choices. Some have been poor for a long time (generations, even) and others are just temporarily in this position.  

As I sat on the church van on the way back to Richmond, I began to think about the people who would eat a part of one of those 16 turkeys. Perhaps somehow we were connected. Though we may never meet, the cooks and the diners have a common experience through a meal. In a very sacred way, we have broken bread together.

I do wish that I could have sat and eaten with some of the diners. Remembering my conversation with pastor Megan, I wonder what I would have learned about God?

I live in a world where I, and most of those I have chosen to live life with, have little to no idea what it is like to be poor or marginalized. My tribe is often middle class Americans who live in adequate homes, eat three meals a day, have never been incarcerated and, though addiction affects all of us in one way or another, live lives where addiction does not control us.

I wonder what I could have discovered about God from those who are aware of their need for God’s provision daily, from those who know what it means to be hungry, in need and even oppressed?

When I approach scripture, I acknowledge that these texts were written to groups of people who knew what it meant to be marginalized, to be poor. I wonder, then, how those who have this similar experience today relate differently to scripture from me? Do they have life experiences that I am missing that give them a more keen insight to God?

Most of my life I have looked for mentors who are well-educated, successful people. Perhaps it is time that I pass the microphone to those who have different experiences, seeking to learn from those who have traveled down different avenues of the Kingdom hoping that our understanding of God is shaped in ways that I never thought possible.   

May God bless and continue to enrich the lives of all those who accept turkey meals, and may God open the ears and hearts of all the cooks.