I don’t believe I’ve ever been prouder of St. James than I was last night.
Thirteen of us turned out to serve a meal to the hungry and homeless at St. Clare’s Ministries last night. Believe me when I tell you there are churches five times our size who can’t convince that many people to come out for an evening spent among those who live on the streets.
For me, it was a wonderful sort of Homecoming. I spent many years volunteering every Tuesday night at St. Clare’s, a ministry that is located at the Episcopal Church of St. Peter & St. Mary, 126 W. 2nd Ave. in Denver. I still have many friends there, both among the volunteers and among the guests. It thrilled me to be able to introduce my old gang to my new gang.
It thrilled me even more when one of the St. Clare’s regulars came up to me and said, “I can’t believe this is the first time your group from St. James has been here. You all swung right into action like veterans. They’re all such hard workers. It feels like you’ve always been here.”
Yep. It sure did. And we fed 108 people, most of whom came back for seconds. Some came back for thirds.
“I have really enjoyed being here tonight,” said Jo Ann Hamm, despite the fact she claims her hands shrank from the heat of wearing sanitary gloves all night while scooping up well over 200 servings of beef stroganoff. “The people were all so polite and so appreciative. And so hungry!”
While some were in the kitchen, others were out in the dining room, wandering from table to table, making sure everyone had enough to drink or got their dessert. Allison Walstad – Steve Driftmier’s daughter – served as “hot sauce lady,” rolling a cart of hot sauces from table to table for those who like their stroganoff seasoned with rocket fuel.
Meanwhile, Harry Johnson and Rita Lord never stopped washing and drying dishes. They were an awesome team. In fact, WE ALL were an awesome team. Many thanks to St. James superstars Rose Applegate, Deacon Anthony Christiansen, Dustin Eisler, Jo Ann Hamm, Nancy Herrera, Carol and Harry Johnson, Cathy Loomis, Rita Lord, Chris Minich, Pearl Oppliger, and Allison Walstad. Plus me. I spent most of the evening just trying to stay out of the way.
Last night may have been our first time at St. Clare’s, but it won’t be our last. We’ve agreed to serve there every time there’s a fifth Tuesday in the month. The next time that happens is in October. Doing anything special Halloween night? If not, why not plan on spending it at St. Clare’s? Talk to the folks who volunteered last night, and see what they tell you about their experience.
They might just tell you that at some point in the evening, they looked up and saw Christ standing there.