Tari Stage-Harvey (Courtesy photo)

Tari Stage-Harvey (Courtesy photo)

Living & Growing: What would it look like to live our lives offering peace and eating together?

  • By Tari Stage-Harvey
  • Friday, May 19, 2023 9:30am
  • Neighbors

We are still in the season of Easter so you can keep finding the eggs missed by the ravens or children. We once found an egg brilliantly hidden that had to be at least two years old. At Shepherd of the Valley, we are also in the season of preparing for summer lunch. On June 4, we will host a huge bike rodeo followed by daily free lunches for youth from June 5-Aug. 4. Feel free to check out the website sovlutheran.org for more information.

One of my favorite Easter stories is when the risen lord shows up to interrupt the fear, shame, and despair of his friends. They witnessed his brutal death and betrayed him until they all ended up terrified together in a locked room. I don’t know what the resurrection looks like or exactly means, but I know something entered that room and breathed peace and courage into people paralyzed with guilt and fear.

See if you can answer this multiple choice question about the resurrection.

When the risen Jesus shows up in the locked room full of people who failed and were hot messes he:

A) Gave a lecture on how to be better disciples in ten easy steps

B) Humiliated them further by announcing what losers they are

C) Gave them a list of who should not be allowed into their locked room because those people weren’t good enough

D) Offered peace and asked for something to eat

If you answered “D,” give yourself a high-five. The church forgets this sometimes and answers A, B, or C, but summer lunch helps us return to offering peace and eating together as a witness to the spirit of love still alive in this world.

I’ve shared this story before, but I need to remind myself every year when my days are filled with the details of this program. I asked a couple of the young people years ago what they wanted to name summer lunch and one girl answered “heaven on earth”. That seemed a little intense for chicken nuggets and carrot sticks, but then the boy sitting at the Lego table affirmed it. “This place is heaven on earth. I am accepted for who I am and fed.”

Summer lunch is loud and messy. There are arguments, complaints, and grumpiness. There are giggles, joy and playfulness. It’s hard to get any work done and there are always blueberry stains on the carpet, but I get to see the spirit of Jesus show up nearly every day and offer peace and break bread. I get to belly laugh when the two girls hold hands in the middle of the entry floor and sing “we are carpet” for 10 minutes. I get to give high fives to the little boy who needs a stool to be tall enough to play carpet ball but still manages to defeat a teenager. I get to listen to their lives, eat sloppy joes, and simply be present in the moment seeing the world through different eyes.

Regardless of what you believe, what would it look like to live our lives offering peace and eating together? What would it look like to give the lectures, the judgments and the shaming a break? My answer is that it looks a lot like summer lunch and you are welcome to volunteer this summer with us, or even better, you are welcome to look around your neighborhood and see what peace and breaking bread could look like there.

Tari Stage-Harvey is pastor for the Shepherd of the Valley Lutheran. “Living & Growing” is a weekly column written by different authors and submitted by local clergy and spiritual leaders. It appears every Friday on the Juneau Empire’s Faith page.

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