The Church Downstairs

While most of my service and experiences at St. Paul’s revolve around our congregational life, I also relish the times I’m able to head downstairs to the Joel Nafuma img_2497.jpegRefugee Center. I love helping out at our international fund-raising dinners. The dinners are attended largely by the extended community formed around the core of 60-70 regular volunteers and the institutions that sponsor them. I was talking with a friend
who frequents these dinners, and he remarked how much like a church it seemed. Oh, most of the attendees might not call it such, yet Jesus would be entirely at home in these celebrations of good food, music and laughter.

My role on Saturday mornings is different, when we serve all who grace our doors a IMG_3103.jpeghard-boiled egg, crackers and hot tea prepare with love by our cook Nasim. On the one hand, I feel uncomfortable, a person of privilege collecting slips of paper and handing out food to the homeless. Yet,
IMG_3104.jpegmy flatmate, a Center peacekeeper, suggests that I focus on how my little task provides a useful sense of order. And given the chasm between my life and those who sleep under the porticos of the train station, these moments of brief exchange around a meal can be deeply meaningful. There’s a lot to listen to in a simple “Buongiorno….grazie…prego.” I’m reminded of another sacrament.

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