These Little Ones

"Whoever welcomes you welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. Whoever welcomes a prophet in the name of a prophet will receive a prophet's reward; and whoever welcomes a righteous person in the name of a righteous person will receive the reward of the righteous; and whoever gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones in the name of a disciple — truly I tell you, none of these will lose their reward." (Matthew 10:40-42, NRSV)

This was the church's week to provide a meal for the homeless shelter in nearby College Town. It may be one of the activities of the church that a reduced membership will curtail. How far can we spread ourselves? I wonder if simply driving the food on the round trip will become a hardship as gas gets more and more expensive? Will we mail a check instead of delivering a crock pot?

For it's not like the meals at the soup kitchen in City By the Sea. College Town's shelter is providing meals to residents who sit down together for a meal provided for the community to share. It's not a cafeteria event, 175 people served by dozens of volunteers. It's beautifully personal. It shows caring at a simple and uncomplicated level.

Unless of course you're the person fixing the meal! I am pretty hopeless at meals for big groups, with the possible exception of Thanksgiving, which I have mastered. I can come up with something for 4th of July, too, but Thanksgiving is my best meal, the various side dishes around the big bird in the roasting pan, the pies that can be made a day ahead. I find myself wondering, is there some other solution to providing the meal, because I worry that the person who organizes our efforts ends up paying for store-bought meals out of her own pocket when her work schedule prevents her from cooking and no one else signs up to help.

Somehow we must remember why we do these things, and I guess this
brings us to the question of what Jesus meant by a reward in verse 42.
We'll get our reward in heaven, right? These acts will bring us through
the gates safely? Saying the right things to the right people, even
though those people are not the "right" people socially, will get us
that reward?

But I am less interested in heaven than I am in the kingdom of God,
here and now. It's as tangible as the cup of cool water sitting beside
me as I type this, if we will live into it. What is the reward? The
reward is being part of something happening now, of a realization of
the commonwealth of God's love. The reward is in the feeling of joy,
the same feeling you get when you're very hot and very dry and only
water can quench your thirst, the feeling you get when you raise that
glass or that bottle to your lips and vitality returns. Oh! It feels

I don't mean to suggest that doing things for others, that providing hospitality or assistance or even love and care will always feel as sharp and clear and necessary as a cold drink of water on a hot day. Sometimes those things feel like the ultimate in slogging, like walking through a swamp. But Jesus is putting us in touch with something simple, reminding us that, yes, there are rituals we observe that mean something and practices we employ that mean something, but that we are making it too complicated. Share the dipper with the thirsty child or the Good News with the lonely person. Share the love of God in the simplest of gestures, even the little ones.

2 thoughts on “These Little Ones”

  1. I always get nervous when it’s my turn to make the entree for that shelter. Cooking for 24 people is scary! But I just multiply and pray, to the best of my ability. I note that it seems every church does it differently, too (either signing up for a section of the meal and bringing separately, or having a team, or whatever.) It is one of the most satisfying things we do, though.
    Beautiful cup and beautiful image.

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