Jesus answered, “You’ve come looking for me not because you saw God in my actions but because I fed you, filled your stomachs – and for free.” – John 6:26 (MSG)
In elementary school, lunchtime was more intricate than just a time for students to eat food. There were so many lunches prepared that never made it into the intended students’ bodies as they were traded for desserts, pencils, or even coveted spots in line next to crushes.
Early in the school year, it became clear who would be good for what kinds of trades. Jackie had bologna white bread sandwiches sliced in half on the diagonal with the crusts cut off. AJ had the sweetest grapes and apple slices that never seemed to turn brown before lunchtime. Alicia’s juice boxes featured popular cartoons and exotic flavors. My lunches were plain – inexpensive enough to feed my four siblings and me on an immigrant family’s budget, so I swiftly learned how to negotiate with non-food desirables.
And then there was Vinny, whose appearance communicated his family was poor, but he’d always have Now and Later candy, which was a hot item! As soon as we could begin trading, we moved quickly to gain the best leverage before crowding Vinny while he still had this coveted item.
Then the bell would ring for recess and we’d scatter to play with our regular groups of friends. Vinny would quietly sit on the bench by himself.
Enable us to seek you not just when you fill us with your goodness, gracious God. Challenge us to witness your actions especially when they don’t benefit us. Compel us to be your activity in the world so that others might experience you through us, our words, and every action. Amen.
The Rev. Phiwa Langeni is the Founder/Director of Salus Center (the first LGBTQ Resource & Community Center in Lansing, MI) and Pastor of Salus Center UCC & First Congregational UCC – Ypsilanti. They are a parent, speaker, writer, transitional coach, designer, and low-key fashion head.