My friend Fred, our custodian, came in with a big garbage bag of over his shoulder like Santa Clause one Wednesday morning. “This was delivered here this morning for our old tenants. ” They had moved out of our programming space several weeks earlier. “It is full of bread. I think I’ll just throw it out.”
“Wait! No!” I cried out. Certainly there were people in this city who could use some food. I looked inside the bag to find more individually wrapped muffin tops, loaves of artisan bread and other goodies that looked as though they had been discarded by a coffee shop or a bread shop. This was a treasure. “I’ll take care of it, leave it here.” Fred gave me a skeptical look but placed it on the visitor’s chair in the church office and then walked out.
I first called the organization that had been our tenants. They had no need of the bread. “Give it away, if you want to—we don’t need it.”
I figured in this city, with so many food distribution programs, it would not be difficult to a place that could put the bread to good use so I got to work by calling the food pantry that we send our canned goods to. They did not want it. I called a small church plant in the city, and they did not want it. “We are only a small church plant—we cannot use it all.” Then I called the church that I belong to (a different church than where I work), and they were willing to take it because they already have a bread pickup program, but people come for bread on Tuesdays, and it was now Wednesday and no one would be coming in for another week. I knew it would spoil by then.
Pastor suggested contacting our neighborhood block groups. They might know someone…but they didn’t. I contacted a member whom I knew would be very passionate about making sure this bread got out to where it was needed. She was passionate and made several phone calls which yielded similar results to that which I was finding.
I was very frustrated. In a city where there are so many people homeless, how is it that we are unable to find a way to get the food out to them? I wanted to just go out on the streets with the bread and talk to people, handing it out myself; but my schedule for my next job of the day would not allow for it. I felt a great urgency in being a good trustee of the bread—it felt profoundly symbolic to me spiritually. “If a church is unable to distribute the blessing of bread to the needy, how can it be entrusted with greater spiritual bread—the encounters from heaven?” If we are unable to steward the simple things we are given, why should God give us more? The number of churches—including ours—who did not have a way of dealing with the bread or who flatly refused it was overwhelming.
My phone rang. I received an unexpected call back from one of our neighborhood groups. Morona, who had originally said they had no one to distribute the bread to was on the line with good news. She found a place that would distribute the bread with the food that they always served to the needy of our city. Morona was gracious enough to pick it up and drop it off there as well. That little ministry which I could not even find on the internet, wherever it is, knows how to accept the blessings from heaven, and will be able to distribute the greater things to those who are spiritually hungry. They have been faithful in the little things, and will be given greater “talents” because they know how to invest what they are given.
Lord, make us ready to invest what you give us at inconvenient moments or in unusual ways wisely so we can be faithful to steward what you are doing here on earth! Amen.