Have you ever found yourself standing in the light of the refrigerator in the middle of the night, postpartum body and emotions at extreme levels, crying into a delicious dessert that some kind soul brought you?
Yeah. Me neither.
Just kidding! I totally have.
But maybe for you it wasn’t dessert. Maybe it was that perfect sandwich your mom made for you with just the right amount of mayonnaise when you were home from college. r perhaps, when you think about critical “food moments” in your life, you think about the amazing turkey and mashed potatoes that your grandmother made for Thanksgiving each and every year.
Do you enjoy cooking? I certainly do. By no means do I make anything glamorous, though. I’m a pretty down-home cook, but I find great joy in making things that make people happy. There’s not much that pleases me more than having a bunch of people settled around my kitchen table, happily chewing away. And that feeling when I deliver dinner to a brand new mom so that she and her family can enjoy a home-cooked meal while still in the throes of those newborn days? It’s priceless, I tell you.
Jesus Feeds Us…
In the John 21:15-19, Jesus asks Peter repeatedly if he loves Him. And every time Peter assents that, yes, he does love Jesus, our Lord gives Peter the same directive. He tells him, “Feed my lambs,” or “Feed my sheep.”
Right then and there, I feel like Jesus established a path of ministry. He understood our human need for and enjoyment of food and what it means to us to share it with one another. And, in His goodness, provided a way for us to minister to each other.
Think of all the times in the Gospels when Jesus shares a meal with His followers. The miracle of the loaves and fishes, cooking fish by the seashore from the disciple’s recent catch, breaking bread on the road to Emmaus and, of course, the Last Supper. Jesus knew that to be our best selves, to be open to whatever life has to offer, our bodies need to be fed, as well as our souls.
…and Commissions Us to Feed Each Other
Sisters, that is something we can do for each other. It is a gift, an extension of the work that Jesus Himself did on this earth. We can minister to each other and provide for each other’s needs simply by sharing a meal. Isn’t that amazing? Something so simple can have such a profound effect on another person’s life.
Think back over your life. I’d wager that many of your strongest and most important memories have food tied to them. Think about the times you felt most cared for in your life. I bet someone took care of your physical needs as well as tending to your heart.
So let’s look for opportunities to minister to someone around us, someone who needs a little extra care. You never know when a simple meal or cup of coffee can turn someone’s whole day around.
Chocolate Eclair “Cake”
To get you started, let me share with you that life-changing, middle-of-the-night dessert that my friend Diana delivered to me ten years and two babies ago.
- 2 boxes of French vanilla instant pudding mix
- 2 cups cold milk
- 12 oz. whipped topping, thawed
- 1 box of plain graham crackers
- 1 can of ready-made chocolate frosting
- Whisk the pudding mix and milk in a bowl until thickened. Fold in the whipped topping.
- Cover the bottom of a 9×13 baking dish with ⅓ of the graham crackers. Don’t worry if you have to break them up to completely cover the bottom. It’s OK!
- Spread ½ of the pudding mixture over the graham crackers. Then, completely cover that with another layer of graham crackers (again, breaking them into pieces is fine).
- Repeat that last step with the remaining pudding mixture and another layer of graham crackers.
- Remove the plastic lid and the seal from the can of frosting. Lay the plastic lid loosely over the opening of the can and microwave it for about 30 seconds, or until the frosting is of pouring consistency. Pour the liquid chocolate deliciousness over the top layer of graham crackers and spread evenly.
- Chill for about 12 hours before serving. (Truth be told, I’ve chilled it for way less time than that and it’s totally fine. The longer it sits, though, the softer the graham crackers get which makes it more like the consistency of an actual eclair.)
- Serve to hungry humans and let the love pour in!
Food as Ministry
I could talk about the spiritual importance of feeding people all day. In fact, I’m teaching a Blessed is She workshop about that very topic on May 22nd at 9 p.m. eastern. If gathering people around the table to nourish their bodies and spirits is something that is important to you (or if you want it to be a part of your life), I’d love for you to join me! You can save your spot right here. I hope to see you there!
Do you approach food as ministry? What are some of your favorite ways to extend hospitality toward others in this way?
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Beth Williby is a mom of four pretty amazing humans and has been married to her college sweetheart for almost twenty years. She does her best praying through singing and feeding the people she loves. Having grown up in the Midwest, she now calls Northeast Florida home. You can find out more about her here.