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The Christmas the Angels Fed the Hungry

Angels are remarkable celestial cheerleaders.  It's not just from the heavens that they cheer us on.  Here on earth we are surrounded by their love.  They give us countless reminders that not only do they love us, but their love is just a tiny fraction of how enormously we are loved by our Creator.

In my twenties the angels gave me an extra boost.  I had joined a church that was very active in everything from the traditional groups to the more radical such as social concerns.  I joined the social concerns group partly because the parish priests pushed me into it and partly because I was so warmly welcomed.  I had never worked on blood drives or in a food pantry.  It wasn't the sort of thing twenty-something guys did.

It was fun!  I was so surprised to see how much I enjoyed it.  Our parish was a mix of people from the rich to very poor.  I was barely out of college.  On any given Sunday I would walk into church and drop off a can in the food pantry bin while seeing other families drop in shopping bags.  Parents had their little children put the food into the bins.  Part of the shock for me was that such things had never existed when I was growing up.  Churches didn't take care of the poor or people down on their luck.  One of the priests would go visit the family and slip them money, just like their relatives did for them.  The school sisters always had ways of helping poor kids that none of us ever saw or knew.  To see regular people doing the same work very publicly was a shock.

Once I became a member of the social concerns group I began to separate cans and boxes from the food bins and put them in bags.  Families were contacted by very discreet members to come to the church for food.  Sometimes the members took food to the families.  The first time I made a delivery shook me to the core.  A young woman met me at the door with her little children all around.  She had tears in her eyes of pure gratitude.  It was so humbling to have enough and be touched by a woman about my age who clearly had not enough.

Every time after that when I was asked to meet the recipients I had to steel myself.  The first time I had not been prepared for such a naked display of grace in action.  Any person who ever gave food or received it taught me lessons in the cheerleading of angels.  Each individual was a reminder of the Creator's grace.

Over time I got to help with other projects.  This led to the committee chairperson and another member asking to meet me one day.  It seemed pretty odd that they would want to have a formal meeting of just the three of us.  If we had any special business, it was typical to do it just before or after group meetings.

As we sat down to meet the women both seemed on edge.  They told me that for a long time people in town had talked about setting up a soup kitchen.  The town's auto factories were always on the brink of disaster.  Sales had not been good for years.  People were being laid off.  More was needed than the food pantry.  Something had to be done to actually put hot food in front of people every day.

One woman knew the town's movers and shakers.  She could get all the legal business done.  The other woman would handle finances.  They clearly had everything wrapped up.  Then one of the women said that they had a job for me.

They needed a miracle to make it happen.  They wanted me to pray it all into place.

That was proof to me that they were nuts.

The women told me that none of their efforts would work without a miracle.  I was the one person they knew who always prayed his way through everything.  If I prayed, the hungry of the town would have a place to get a hot meal.  None of the grants or permits could come through without somebody who had a God connection.  I was the guy to pray it into action.

That was the second proof they were nuts.

My answer at that meeting was that I had to talk to the young priest who was my best friend and then get back to them.  I did call the kid priest.  He asked if I had said yes.  He ignored me as I protested.  He told me to say yes and get to work.  Not believing a word he or the women said, I ultimately capitulated.

The soup kitchen took less time to open than had been expected.  The grant money came through.  Churches were found to both host the site and provide people to cook and serve.

The angels cheered.  We had listened to them tell us what God wanted from us.  Even me, the least likely to lift a finger to help.  I had figured that if God wanted this miracle to happen, He would make it happen.  I could cooperate by helping my friends.

I had no idea that within a year I would have no home, my finances would be wiped out and others would be feeding me.  God put angels in my life who put human angels in my life.

Any day that we are taken care of is Christmas.  Feeding the hungry in spirit and body is in season every day of our lives.  There have been many Christmases when the angels have given me people who helped me, gave me a place that was warm and loving.

Today the angels brought me food.