Today--Saturday, November 14, 2015--we are all filled with great sorrow at the events that unfolded in Paris last night. The violence, the loss, the suffering makes us heartsick. We are pained to the core. And it always raises a question: What do we then do?
Perhaps one thing we might do is get to know our neighbors, particularly those who are different than we are--those who are "other" until there are no "others" anymore. Gregory Boyle, in his wonderful book Tattoos on the Heart, writes of creating a community so close there is "no daylight to separate us." He goes on:
Inching ourselves closer to creating a community of kinship such that God might recognize it. Soon we imagine, with God, this circle of compassion. Then we imagine no one standing outside of that circle, moving ourselves closer to the margins so that the margins themselves will be erased.
But this cannot be mere rhetoric. There must be action beyond our words. And that is why we do Community Lunches at St. Matt's. Sandra Gentry speaks to this:
People often ask me what the Community Luncheons are about. That always takes me back to when I was first asked to coordinate this ministry. And I had a vision. I saw our Community Luncheons as an opportunity for us to enter into relationships with one another and our community, our neighbors. Who are our neighbors – why not find out?
[For example, at] the first Community Luncheon in January of this year... there was one family in particular that stood out to me. It was a young man, his father, sister, and niece. I had met him at the Thanksgiving Day Luncheon last November. That day he was a late arrival, and I asked if he would mind if I sat with him as he ate. I inquired as to how he had heard about the meal. He explained that he was just driving by and saw the sign. Normally, he and his father (who lives with him) celebrated Thanksgiving Day with his sister’s family, but they had gone out-of-town. When he finished his meal, I suggested that he take some food for his father.
Well, in January he and his family came to join us, and they bought cupcakes to contribute to the meal. When he saw me, he asked me to come to their table so he could introduce me to everyone. We had made a connection, and that is exactly what my vision is about – relationships – connections.
If you have never attended one of the Community Luncheons, please consider doing so in 2016. I invite you to come and meet our neighbors. ~Sandra