The church where I grew up was in downtown Houston, a giant city with a slightly dangerous downtown area at the time. (Now, it’s full of expensive condos and fancy restaurants.) But when I was a youth, it was still not a great place to be wandering at night.
On my church’s street (Main Street, obviously!), there were theaters, churches, a community college, and tall buildings. Every time I exited the big double doors of the sanctuary each Sunday morning, however, I was bombarded by THAT ONE BUILDING ACROSS THE STREET. It was a homeless shelter for men, women and children. It is called SEARCH, and the big, bold letters “SEARCH” always stood out to me as I left church each week. But I was scared to go across the street…what if they were bad people, and someone wanted to harm me? Or steal my allowance? Those people were different from me, and I was just fine keeping my distance. I’d stay in my little church bubble with beautiful stained glass windows, lots of Christian friends and Wednesday nights with pizza and ice cream at the Youth House. I didn’t need to cross paths with those people.
Boy, was I wrong. My youth minister decided that our youth group would cook and serve dinner to the residents of SEARCH every couple of months all during my high school years. What did we make?
SPAGHETTI. Tons of it. Enough for 75 people.
I didn’t know how to cook much, but I learned how to make spaghetti.
And here’s the thing: Spaghetti is holy. It’s warm and comforting and filling. It’s a fun word to say and a better food to devour! It’s quick to throw together, and my friends and I would make a ton of it. We would carefully cook and proudly serve the residents of SEARCH our piles of spaghetti, but they wouldn’t start eating until we had grabbed our own plates and sat down with them. (Some of the residents joked that WE the cooks needed to taste test it to make sure it was safe to eat, ha!) So my fellow youth and I would sit down, and the residents would pray FOR US. By name. I was shocked at the care and love they showed us, especially when WE were supposed to be the ones caring and loving THEM.
And then we’d talk & laugh while we slurped up noodles. Spaghetti is a messy food, so you can’t help but be humble and relax a little when you’re making a mess at a table of strangers. Some of the people I met had been homeless for a long, long time. Some were diagnosed with HIV/AIDS are were trying to stay healthy while fighting addictions and other serious challenges. Others looked just like my dad…it was weird. These people were people. And they accepted me, my bratty-spoiled-loved-naive self. And they opened up their lives to me and my friends through stories and jokes and breaking bread together.
So let’s eat spaghetti together…Wednesday night! We will share it and eat it ourselves. And in the future, we’ll make it for some homeless friends in our city. And we’ll also do some R.A.O.K.—Random Acts of Kindness–around our church’s neighborhood. It’ll be so sneakily fun!!!! You all know I like a good prank (that doesn’t hurt anybody.)
Wednesday, 9/28 from 6:30-8:30 pm in the Youth House (we’ll go up to the kitchen)
- Bring $3 for dinner (gluten free pasta available, too)
- Get ready for some sneaky fun that will show kindness to others!!!!
Sunday, 10/2 at 10:00 am
- 10:00 am Worship with YOUTH BIBLE STUDY (Sunday School)!
- It’s World Communion Sunday, so we’ll serve by providing breads of the world for communion. Fun!