All Saints Meal Ministry
Joel and I had our first child, beautiful Ruth Elizabeth, last November, and soon after we brought her home, I thought, “Hmmm…It’s going to be a while before I can do the things I used to, and it may never be as easy to do them!” Homemade dinners from wife/mother would come again one day, but it was going to take me some time to have the time, energy, or inclination to cook. Thankfully, All Saints has a wonderful ministry of providing meals to families with new babies, as well as to families undergoing the trial of serious illness, surgery, or death. Over the next few weeks, we were abundantly fed, both by delicious dinners our brothers and sisters in Christ brought, and also by fellowship and encouragement we felt we were otherwise missing, cooped up at home with a newborn at the beginning of winter. Our little family was richly blessed by the hospitality and love extended to us during such a momentous time.
Having Ruth wasn’t my first experience with the meal ministry of our church. In fact, it all started way back in October of 2003, shortly after All Saints began meeting as a church. I will always remember taking a meal to the Dwelle family after Greta was born. The Dwelles had just moved to Austin, and I was a newlywed, only starting to learn to cook. I felt funny taking mediocre food to people I had never met. It’s a great thing, too, that I didn’t yet know that Sarah Dwelle is fabulous in the kitchen, or I might have missed what ended up being a great visit with Sarah and Eva and a newborn Greta! (A few months later, I was inspired to buy an electric mixer because I watched Sarah bake cookies WITHOUT A RECIPE while carrying on a full conversation with me and her darling children! So impressive.) Anyway, after visiting for a while that first day of taking a family dinner, I left thinking, “I really like them! I think I just made a new friend!”
Some life events, such as babies or surgeries, mean that preparing meals becomes difficult, or even impossible, for a time. In these situations, meals provided by the church family are God’s clear provision of “daily bread” for His people in need. But in other cases, such as bereavement, the physical presence of the body of Christ is at least equally as important as a casserole. That casserole not only provides sustenance, it shows that the Lord himself is here and coming alongside those who are suffering. Many of us have had the experience of muffins, a pan of lasagna, or a plate full of cookies from a friend or stranger that make the grieving process easier because they are a reminder that we don’t grieve alone, and we don’t grieve as those who have no hope.
It’s been truly delightful to make meals for families in the church many, many times since then. Like so many mission trip experiences you hear about, I started volunteering to make meals for families with new babies because I wanted to do something to serve them. But time after time, the Lord has blessed me as I see His hand at work in homes, through visits as I drop off dinner, and especially through the precious first few days of babies’ lives.
God has continued to bless All Saints with lots and lots of children, and He has continued to draw new families to our church. Over the next several months, we have at least 10 women expecting babies! I would love to encourage you to sign up to take dinner to a family with a newborn or other need. This is a ministry that anyone and everyone can take part in! By no means do dinners have to be gourmet or even homemade. Singles, married couples, couples with children, couples without children, children themselves can all come up with (or pick up) a simple meal to offer. And by sharing that food, you will be extending the abundance of God and aroma of His grace to His children.