Tag Archives: volunteer

In Which We Serve at a Soup Kitchen

baked-goods-photoMatterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Monday, November 14, 2016


In Which We Serve at a Soup Kitchen

I found myself in the basement of a church this afternoon with a dozen other people, getting ready to serve at a soup kitchen. Marvelous operation. Worked like clockwork.

The tables, chairs, tablecloths and vases with flowers were already on the tables when we got there. We volunteers got out some serving utensils and set up serving stations for soup, bread, and beverages. We unloaded the back of a car piled high with breads, cookies, and various other baked goods and set them out on several banquet-size tables. Cheryl, the manager of the soup kitchen, made sure that all the volunteers were assigned to cover all of the various stations.

And then, the guests started to come in. The food kept coming out of the kitchen. The guests went down the line, and out to the tables. I kept busy, getting the guests drinks. Asking if they needed anything. Going back and forth, trying to be as friendly and helpful as I could.

We all did have an opportunity to sit for a bit and have a bite of dinner. (Which was superb!) I sat at a table with several guests, and enjoyed having some conversation with them.

I noticed some people did not meet my eyes, but instead kept their eyes lowered. I noticed some guests moved slowly, and a few even needed assistance walking. Or carrying their plates. Or both. I noticed after sitting at the tables for a time, and getting comfortable, some people really became engaged and animated.

How good to be of service, again. (I have not served at a soup kitchen for several years.) I so appreciate the First United Methodist Church of Des Plaines for hosting Bessie’s Table. Thanks to my fellow members of the Des Plaines Ministerial Alliance, who volunteered tonight. Thanks to all of the regular workers for giving of their time and talent. And, thanks to Cheryl, the manager of Bessie’s Table.

Dear God, I pray for all those in that church basement tonight. Encourage hearts, not only of the guests who were at Bessie’s Table tonight, but also of the volunteers and workers. For some, it might have been the very first time they had the opportunity to work at such a place. Please, God, help it not be the last. I pray for the guests, their loved ones, and for each situation each one finds themselves in. God, come alongside and comfort. You are our Refuge and Strength, always present in time of trouble, and when we have need. Thanks, God.


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Why not visit my companion blogs, “the best of” A Year of Being Kind.  #PursuePEACE. My Facebook page, Pursuing Peace – Thanks! And, read my sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er


Day #30 – Be First—to Pray! To Communicate!

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Tuesday, March 24, 2015

SERVE find yourself in service to others

Day #30 – Be First—to Pray! To Communicate!

Daunting? Scary? As I read today’s suggestion, I did feel those things. I also felt wistful and a bit envious. I have never done anything like Scott, the writer of our post today. (Going to Africa as a volunteer photo journalist? Wow!)

I’ve done other things. I’ve raised four children, served as a lay leader in several churches in a variety of capacities, gone to seminary at forty years old, and switched careers from a housewife to a chaplain, and now local church pastor.

I’ve been sort of land-locked, remaining here in Chicago. Not that I’m complaining! Chicago is an exciting, multi-cultural city, to say the least. But I’ve never picked up and gone much of anywhere else, except for a few short family visits. New York City, Seattle, Portland, Nashville, Boston, Washington D.C. That’s about it. (At least my relatives live in interesting places!)

However, I’m thinking of the time I was involved with a mission committee for almost thirteen years at a church I attended, a few years back. The large, mission-oriented First Presbyterian Church of Evanston, with several dozen missionaries and mission agencies.

When my two younger children were very small, I did what I could with the gifts I had. I have some skill at communication and writing, and I enjoy keeping in touch with people. This was towards the beginning of the Internet age. I took on the task of keeping in touch with the many mission agencies and missionaries the church supported. “Volunteer Inreach Communication Coordinator,” my position was called. I was faithful for some years, and tried my best to keep the congregation up to date on the work and activities of the various missions and missionaries.

Now, at the small church where I minister, one of the primary outreaches is the Maine Township Food Pantry. I am a great supporter of this food pantry! I pray for the workers and for a continuing food supply, and I encourage the congregation to pray, too. Plus, we have a collection for the Pantry on the first Sunday of the month (when our church celebrates Communion).

I know what it’s like to have very little money. It’s been a number of years, but when my older two children were very small, that was the situation in my family. So, I am generous! I bring non-perishables to the collection table at church,regularly, and am so grateful and pleased when my congregation is generous, as well.

Consider being generous with your time and talents. Find something you get excited about, and get busy. Please. So many people with be grateful and excited if you do. And don’t forget God! I remember the words of Jesus in the Olivet Discourse, specifically in Matthew 25, for “the least of these.” I take these words quite seriously as my marching orders.

Be generous with your time, talents and treasure. Please. You’ll be grateful, too!


Like what you read? Disagree? Share your thoughts with your loved ones and continue the conversation.

(Check out #40acts; doing Lent generously at www.40acts.org.uk )

Why not visit my sister blogs, “the best of” A Year of Being Kind.   @chaplaineliza And read #40acts sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er .

Day #15 – Share a Verse? Sometimes. Today? Yes.

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Friday, March 6, 2015

serenity prayer

Day #15 – Share a Verse? Sometimes. Today? Yes.

Sharing a Scripture verse in conversation? Yes, when appropriate. When it comes to mind. It doesn’t always, but today it did. The verse was quite appropriate. But, you be the judge of that.

Every few weeks, I volunteer at a hospital inpatient unit. I have a certificate in Alcohol and Drug Counseling, and I go to a drug and alcohol rehab unit to facilitate an hour on spirituality. This is one of the most rewarding things I can do. I get such encouragement out of giving people some hope and light and letting them know that there is a solution. Giving and serving, getting out of myself is truly a rewarding thing to do. On a regular basis.

These people are very early in recovery. Only a few days, in some cases. Perhaps a week or maybe ten days. I see it as my job to give them some hope, some tools, some explanation of something outside of themselves that can help them to stay clean and sober, one day at a time.

The rehab unit relies strongly on the 12 Step model of recovery. Not completely, but it is a major part of this unit’s philosophy. Accordingly, I base my facilitation on Steps 2 and 3, talking about the help of a Higher Power, and about God as each individual understands God. I try to give each person help and assistance at understanding this Higher Power. We were going around the room. I asked each person to give me a describing word that tells me about the Higher Power or God that helps each one, personally, to stay clean and sober one day at a time.

I’ve done this many times before. Everyone in the room knew that I am a pastor, and have worked as a chaplain in a hospital for most of the past ten years. So, I would transition in and out of “God talk.” When a person said they understood God in a Christian sense, I would switch and speak of God that way. However, some people in the group had difficulty approaching that idea. So, I would affirm them in their belief—of the Group of Drunks or Good Orderly Direction, or whatever their understanding led them towards.

As in the past, I received some excellent adjectives or attributes of God/Higher Power. Loving, believing, caring, helping. And several other marvelous words. About three quarters of the way around the circle, someone said “forgiving.” I made certain this patient was speaking of God in a Christian sense, and the patient and I exchanged a sentence or two about the awesomeness of God’s forgiveness of our sins. And then, it bubbled up out of me. One of my favorite Bible verses from Psalm 103. “As far as the east is from the west, so far has God removed our transgressions/sins from us.” It just popped out of my mouth. Boom.

I acknowledge that not everyone in the room was/is completely comfortable with “quoting Scripture verses.” Yes. However, I had been with the group for about 45 minutes. I believe I had some credibility with them by this time, and shown myself to be understanding and encouraging. Not divisive, rigid or negative about their individual beliefs. I think this was by far an excellent way for me to share some of my experience, strength and hope with them. And, I hope my suggestions help them to stay clean and sober, one day at a time. Today. Again, with God/HP’s help, there is a solution.

God, I pray for all the good people I saw at the inpatient unit today. Please, help them in their difficulties. Encourage and support each one as they show each other caring, support and love. And help all the people in recovery I know to stay clean and sober, one day at a time. Amen.

Like what you read? Disagree? Share your thoughts with your loved ones and continue the conversation.

(Check out #40acts; doing Lent generously at www.40acts.org.uk )

Why not visit my sister blogs, “the best of” A Year of Being Kind.   @chaplaineliza And read #40acts sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er .