Faith Matters: Nourishment of the soul

  • The team at Trinity Church in Shelburne Falls puts on one of their Friday night community meals to go in the parking lot. Contributed photo

  • The team at Trinity Church puts on one of their Friday night Community Meals to go in the parking lot. Contributed photo

  • Trinity Church in Shelburne Falls. Staff file photo/Paul Franz

Pastor, Trinity Church
Published: 3/14/2021 2:56:34 PM

(Each Saturday, a faith leader offers a personal perspective in this space. To become part of this series, email religion@recorder.com)

I have written before in this column about the long running and amazing West County Friday Community Meal hosted by Trinity Church here in Shelburne Falls. This meal was one of the many reasons that I accepted the invitation to become the pastor at Trinity Church. The teaching from Jesus — that if we want to see God in the world, we need to clothe the naked and feed the hungry, care for the sick and visit the prisoners — has always felt to me to be at the heart of my faith. So how wonderful it is to be somewhere where I get to meet up with God every Friday.

Our meal has always been a community event. It lives at our church (usually in our fellowship room and now in our driveway) but the meals have historically been cooked by community groups with assistance from our team. People from across West County have brought the food, cooked the meal, and eaten with community friends — both those who are “food insecure” at the time and those who just enjoy breaking bread with others.

Since the pandemic, we have not been able to accept food cooked by community groups. The question was, “How can we continue our tradition?” The team is determined to keep the meal going so they still show up to cook and serve every week. The community is still coming to receive (now walking or driving up) and, lo and behold, has been beyond generous in contributing financially. We are grateful and humbled by the donations we receive, and we want to say a huge THANK YOU to everyone.

I asked the “pandemic team” to tell me in a few words what this meal means to them. I know what it means to me but what was at the core for them? Here are a few responses. They amplify my experience of meeting up with God and neighbors. And they remind me that, as one team member said, “blessings abound.”

Marc said: “This quote, from Ali ibn abi Talib, a cousin of the prophet Muhammad, sums up how I feel about the meal: ‘The nourishment of the body is food, while the nourishment of the soul is the feeding of others.’ I look forward to preparing the weekly meal each and every Friday. Each part of the whole — meal preparation, working with others, and serving it up — is rich and gratifying.”

Emily responded: “I have always been a ‘Jewish Mother’ by nature and feel my best when I’m feeding people. When I’m in the kitchen with the prep team, every chop, stir, sprinkle and slice remind me that a smiling face will be enjoying a (hopefully) delicious bite! The appreciation we receive warms my heart, and the support from all of our donors is a blanket that wraps around our tight-knitted community ... Blessings abound!”

And Abby, a new member of our team had this to say: “The community meal is one way for me to give back to our amazing community. Times are very hard for many people right now. During hard times, our community comes together to help out. This community meal is not only helpful but gives people a break. Even if it’s just from making a meal. It’s one less thing they need to worry about. I’m so glad I can be a part of something so special.”

Toss in the faithful work of showing up and cooking and cleaning and serving from Tony and Ted and Zachary with my happiness at being the one who gets to meet each person driving in or walking up and you might see why this meal is longstanding and miraculous. How could we be anything other than grateful and amazed and in love with this Friday night gathering? Thank you all for nourishing body and soul.

About Trinity Church

Trinity Church is meeting for Sunday worship online via a YouTube service accessed on our church website, Facebook, and YouTube station. We incorporate singers from home (and are always looking for new voices) and a reader in the church along with our pastor and organist. We continue to meet every Tuesday at 11 a.m. for a contemplative reading of the upcoming Gospel (now on Zoom.) Our leadership team meets weekly and is always looking for input from our members and community. We also meet, greet and feed our neighbors with our much-loved weekly free community meal, now served every Friday evening from 5:30 to 6 p.m. in a drive-up and to-go format. All are welcome to participate in any of these gatherings. Call the church at 413-625-2341 for more information.


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