every wednesday, a miracle

every wednesday night between the hours of 4:30 and 8:00 pm, i witness a miracle. i walk around in it, stunned with gratitude.

every wednesday night, you see, a small group of sacrificial, joyful people purchases and prepares enough home-made food to feed over 100 people. they come into the kitchen at the Hall and prepare it for serving, while neighbors of all ages and colors and sorts set the tables (12 8-seater tables) with humble paper plates and plastic silverware. the children run around chasing one another and wrestling with their college-age friends and mentors. a few folks come early to sit in the warm and drink a cup of bad coffee. and by six pm, almost every seat in that Hall is filled. most of the faces are familiar; they’ve been coming for months, or even years, and we feel a bit like a family by now. folks who walk the streets with heads hanging low under the weight of their shame or addiction, look bright-faced and confidently converse with trusted friends. everyone sheds their heavy winter gear. you’ll see an unaccompanied neighborhood kid seated next to a cluster of homeless men, or a caring grandmother with her grandkids seated next to a middle-class churchy person. sometimes someone will pull out a chair for someone else, or younger person will help and older one up the wide stairs into the hall. on small slips of paper, people write down how they would like us to pray for them over the course of the week (“pray i’d find work,” “ask God to bind our family together,” “freedom from addiction,” or “thank Him for our houses and our families and everything He gives to us”), which we will do corporately a few days later. worship music plays quietly in the background as the folks who did all that cooking come around to each table, look each person in the eye, and serve them their food  (a delish pasta dish with green salad and a roll, maybe a brownie, too), or pour them another glass of water. and after everyone has gotten their portion, we all pause and receive the Bread of Life from the mouth of a friend who’s been prayerfully studying for days, asking God to speak to hearts. and there is stillness and attentiveness, and someone might shout “amen!” or “that’s what’s up!”. most days everyone can have seconds on the food. as folks finish up with eating, they’ll take their plates and cups to the trash can or have another cup of coffee, or move across the room to talk to another friend. some weeks a guy will get up and sing a gospel song into the microphone, or deliver an impromptu and disconnected sermon. the room will empty nearly entirely, but some of us will stay and pause once again to worship (an appropriate response to a miracle, right?). if there are leftovers, we’ll send them home with people, and some friends will stay to wash down the table tops or to sweep the floor. and at about 8 pm, we’ll walk out from that place, turning off all the lights, and we’ll all be very, very full.

every wednesday.

a miracle.

seriously.

note: the pictures in this post are more than a year old. yes, i need to get current ones. one of these weeks…

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