Tonight many Episcopal churches will gather for Maundy Thursday. Some will have an agape meal (a communal meal centered around the love of Christ), some will wash feet (remembering how Jesus washed the feet of the disciples, and some will celebrate the Eucharist.
Food is such an important part of our lives. I tend to take it for granted. I’ve never gone with out food. Instead, I spend my days trying to limit my intake. However, I have spent the last ten years working with people who are hungry, people who don’t have access to healthy food, and people who can’t afford the fresh fruits and vegetables I take for granted.
Our church, St. Mark’s and St. John’s on Culver Road in Rochester turns vacant lots into gardens. We partner with colleges and Universities to teach students about the effects of racism and the cycle of poverty in Rochester. We employ high school students from impoverished neighborhoods to work in the gardens in the summer as part of the Summer of Opportunity program.
We had a senior in High School work for us who had never tasted a raw tomato. Cindy, our priest says we are saving the world one tomato at a time.
We have a food shelf once a week where people can come and get food. The stories of our guests would fill a book. The only way to really understand the poor is to be in relationship with the poor. There buy by the grace of God go I. And by grace of God, I mean I was born into priviledge. I had every advantage – good food, good education, clothing, housing, cars that ran, parents with a college education and good jobs. And I’m white.
Jesus showed generous hospitalty to everyone and we try and do the same. After volunteering at this church I no longer take my privledge for granted. Aside from feeding people, we are trying to help change a broken system. We recently found out that 95% of the students in our church’s neighborhood school are reading and writing below grade level. The same holds true for math.
There is plenty of money in Rochester. There are plenty of smart, creative, and action oriented individuals as well. We just need to focus.