I have a confession to make, a few weeks ago I skipped church. I missed the choir’s beautiful prelude and anthem. I missed the little kids in their cute little outfits run up to put their change in the little wooden church. I missed the sermons and liturgy, even the hymns. I may have missed worship at Hayesville First United Methodist Church, but I didn’t miss church because we went out to BE church.
Early that Sunday morning we went to Trinity Soup Kitchen in Downtown Atlanta. The soup kitchen is in the basement of Trinity United Methodist Church. Even though they are a small congregation they make a BIG impact on their community. They are the only food distribution place in their area consistently offering assistance on Sundays.
Every year First UMC Hayesville goes down to serve a meal to this community. Their weekend of service starts on Saturday when the volunteers prepare over a thousand sandwiches to hand out as take out bags the next day.
Everyone comes back just before dawn the next morning to take the trip down to Atlanta so we can get to the kitchen early enough to start warming up over 50 gallons of vegetable and sausage soup. The youth take the time to set up the tables in the dining area of the church. The youth act as servers to the people receiving the meal that day. The youth fill the bowls, pour the (sweet) tea, and even bus the tables after the meal. About 275 people ate that day. It was such a joy to see how hard the youth worked and the smiles exchanged between them and the people they served.
One of the youth volunteered to run the prayer table where people were given the option to come up and share their prayer requests. I witnessed him deep in prayer with many participants and he took home a list of prayer requests to share with the rest of the youth group so they can continue praying as well.
It was a beautiful day and it made me think about our mission as Christians. I overheard one of the youth talking about skipping church that day and it made me think that it is okay to skip church to go out and BE church. Yes it is important to be in fellowship with fellow Christians to read the Bible and lift our voices to God in prayer and song, but God calls the church to be so much more than that. Jesus said go out and feed the hungry, clothe the naked, visit the sick and imprisoned. That requires us to leave the church building and be out in the world. North Carolina’s state motto is “Esse quam videri” which roughly translates to “to be, rather than to seem”. We can talk about being the people of Christ, talk about feeding the poor, throw some money in the offering plate or donate a can of food, but it is so much better to go out and actually BE the body of Christ. We need to feed our brothers and sisters, help them sort through the donated clothes, share in their joys and struggles, sit with them and just BE.
Hinton Rural Life Center, Hinton, NC
US-2 Class 2013