The Gift of Presence
For nearly two weeks, those of us in the Saint Paul Area Synod have been blessed by the presence of ou[...]
The journey of Shobi’s Table has been a spirit filled one. From the first moments that God put on my heart to do this thing, to the gathering of resources and support, to the first worship on Maundy Thursday of 2014, it has been spirit led.
I’m a good Lutheran and have struggled to find the words to explain what happened. I give thanks to my evangelical and pentecostal brothers and sisters for language that fits. God put on my heart and gave others eyes to see and ears to hear the vision I was given.
Over the nearly 3 years of us being a “food truck church,” we have received incredible encouragement, support and generosity from the synod and the ELCA. Daily, I give thanks and praise to God for you and your continued witness.
Today, it is my absolute joy and pleasure to announce that we have been given the gift of a food truck to use permanently. This will continue to build the vision for a church community that expands the ministry of the Saint Paul Area Synod beyond buildings.
The story is humbling.
Several months ago, I received a phone call on a Saturday morning around 8am. Coffee had not yet been made and my kid was watching cartoons. Not exactly the moment you expect a phone call of magnitude. As I answered the call, I wondered what was about to happen. After brief pleasantries, I was told a story of how this food truck was available as a gift. It was available for someone to take the leap and grow a ministry with it. It was to be a “mustard seed to build the kingdom.”
At this point, my jaw dropped. All I could say was thank you. And the only thing I could think was, “this is the largest mustard seed I have ever heard of.”
A few weeks later, the donor and I met to exchange keys and do some paperwork. As we were visiting, he told me that there would be “no parading in the synod office or trips to the bishop. This was to be an anonymous gift, for it says somewhere that we should give in secret. “
I nearly began to weep at the faithfulness of this gift.
A mustard seed is so tiny and grows into a tree. A food truck is a small act in a large world. It also can grow the beloved community of God’s people with its small presence.
And, as I reflect on this faithfulness, I find new joy in the Matthew lesson for Ash Wednesday.
St. Matthew writes:
"Beware of practicing your piety before others in order to be seen by them; for then you have no reward from your Father in heaven. So whenever you give alms, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, so that they may be praised by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your alms may be done in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you."
This is about the joyful sharing of resources with God’s people. What joy it is to share and simply enjoy the expansion of God’s community.
I am blown away by the faith of those gathered around Shobi’s Table. You lift us up and hold us accountable. You cheer for us and weep with us. You quietly give and generously love.
I think of the baptismal promises made by the community of faith. We promise to support and pray for our sisters and brothers in Christ. This gift of a food truck is the mustard seed that is planted at baptism. It grows with the nurturing of community. It grows with the faithful trust in God’s presence in life. It grows in the quiet giving and loving of God’s people.
I give thanks to God daily that I have been called by the Saint Paul Area Synod to serve on your behalf as a missionary in St Paul.
I hope you will celebrate this gift of faith with us in June at a party celebrating the new adventures we will have with our truck. This is your truck and your ministry. Thanks be to God!
The Rev. Margaret Kelly