The First United Methodist Church in Sarasota hosted its 7th annual Christmas Banquet for homeless and needy people.
It’s a classy affair. The tables are set with linen table cloths and good cutlery etc. Each table has a magnificent and seasonal centre-piece – a different one on each table - made by church members in a friendly competition.
Church members wait on tables, and the food is more than excellent: turkey, ham, mashed potatoes, dressing (stuffing) and good vegetables – followed by excellent homemade desserts.
The whole event runs like a well oiled machine. I estimate that there were close to 200 guests, served by about 50 volunteers.
Congratulations to the members of First United Methodist Church, for this extraordinary hospitality. The event is as far from a “soup kitchen” as you could imagine. It is truly a banquet.
My role was to “work the crowd” as folks lined up outside the Church. Many arrived more than an hour before the Banquet began. I knew about 70% of the guests, and they knew me.
Some asked me to pray with them. I joshed and wise-cracked with others. I tried to shake every hand, as a sign that “you are welcome”. Mostly I tried to be a non-anxious presence in the lives of those guests who were concerned in case there would not be enough room or food for them. I also had to fend off the bull sh-t of those people who assured me that they had a special and unique reason to be placed at the head of the line. I said to one of them - “you cannot bull sh-t a bull sh-tter” - in other words “I know your game, for I too have played it”.
As I drove home I mused on the theme of “anxiety in the face of abundance”.
That’s a common enough feeling not only for homeless people, but also for those of us who are relatively well heeled.