Pay it Forward

“Send out your bread upon the waters, for after many days you will get it back.” – Ecclesiastes 11:1

Mason Wartman always has a line of customers out of the door of Rosa’s, his pizza shop in Philly. It might not be the best pizza in town, but it’s the kindest. Colorful Post-its flutter on the walls of the shop like Tibetan prayer flags. Each one is a love-note to the future: a voucher for one free slice of pizza, bought by a paying customer who knows that the next person in the door might be broke. 

In the last year alone, Mason’s community has bought more than 10,000 slices of pizza for each other, using the simple, elegant post-it strategy Mason devised.

Mason’s ritual works because it’s not charity. It’s communion. Charity can do a lot of good, but charity also sometimes brings dented castoffs from the back of the pantry to the food drive and calls it love.

Charity makes inequality radically visible. Communion makes inequality radically invisible. In the early church, communion was not a symbolic ritual, but a full meal—for some, the only meal they’d get that day. Imagine: platters of hot bread as big as your face gracing the table, and everybody eating their fill. Theoretically, nobody knew who was rich one, poor one, beggar one, slave. It was a meal designed to erase those boundaries, because we are all beggars in the eyes of God. 


Thank you, God, for Post-its like prayer flags and pizza that tastes like bread from heaven. Amen.

About the Author
Molly Baskette is senior minister of First Church Somerville UCC in Somerville, MA, and the author of the book Real Good Church: How Our Church Came Back from the Dead and Yours Can Too.