John 21: 4-14
"4 Just after daybreak, Jesus stood on the beach; but the disciples did not know that it was Jesus. 5 Jesus said to them, “Children, you have no fish, have you?” They answered him, “No.” 6 He said to them, “Cast the net to the right side of the boat, and you will find some.” So they cast it, and now they were not able to haul it in because there were so many fish. 7 That disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on some clothes, for he was naked, and jumped into the sea. 8 But the other disciples came in the boat, dragging the net full of fish, for they were not far from the land, only about a hundred yards off.
9 When they had gone ashore, they saw a charcoal fire there, with fish on it, and bread. 10 Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish that you have just caught.” 11 So Simon Peter went aboard and hauled the net ashore, full of large fish, a hundred fifty-three of them; and though there were so many, the net was not torn. 12 Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.” Now none of the disciples dared to ask him, “Who are you?” because they knew it was the Lord. 13 Jesus came and took the bread and gave it to them, and did the same with the fish. 14 This was now the third time that Jesus appeared to the disciples after he was raised from the dead."
This past weekend I took the youth group from my church, First Church in Ipswich down to the Outdoor Church in Cambridge. On Saturday evening we gathered to make turkey and ham sandwiches as well as egg salad sandwiches on white bread. As we made the sandwiches we talked with the youth group about why we were making two types of sandwiches and to who we would be giving the sandwiches. We explained to the youth that the homeless who attend the Outdoor Church now have very few choices in their lives and by providing options through the types of sandwiches we provide we are able to empower these individuals and feed them for at least one meal.
Early on Sunday morning, our youth group headed down to attend the 9 am service at the Porter Square T stop. It was a beautiful summer day with a cool breeze and not a cloud in the sky. As the sun shined down a few people began to gather. First was the pianist with her electric keyboard, and then a couple of homeless men followed by the Minister Tom. Rev. Tom came up pushing his cart, which looks like a kitchen center island on wheels. In this cart are his morning supplies including: a Bible, laminated bulletins, items for communion, donuts, coffee and white athletic socks. At first it seemed that this table or alter was simply to aid in the worship service. I soon saw that this cart was God’s hand reaching out to God’s people. This cart was God’s vehicle prepared to give it all to those in need.
The service was a well orchestrated and included prayers from the Catholic tradition, the serenity prayer, and protestant prayers allowing everyone in attendance to relate on some level. Rev. Tom and two of the parishioners also served Communion in one of the simplest forms. Handing out the wafers and pouring the cup into small plastic cups handed out by one parishioner and collected by the second. This simple act was the most moving communion service I have ever attended. A person who has nothing was offering me this Holy Sacrament. I often think of myself as offering this Holy Sacrament and being able to offer others the blessing and peace of the new covenant but this day it was given to me. I then knew what Jesus meant when he said, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all of them; for all of them have contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty has put in all she had to live on.” (Luke 21:3-4). I have abundance while these two individuals who served me have nothing, yet they gave me everything they had.
After the worship we handed out the sandwiches and talked with some of the parishioners. One woman was so grateful for the service and told us how it always starts her week off right. As she said this I thought, “Amen, going to church gets me off to a good start each week also.” As she continued she said, “where else could you come and get a free cup of coffee and breakfast.” She was being fed, but not in the way I first thought, the spiritual, emotional feeding I most often get from service, she was literally and spiritually being fed.
This woman was a true witness to what I often refer to as Jesus’ first breakfast as descripted in John 21. The people at the Outdoor Church have no fish, but Jesus comes every Sunday in wind, rain, snow and sun shine to invite them to “Come and have breakfast.” Just like the disciples not realizing it was Jesus, I imagine some of the people who attend the Outdoor Church might not recognize Jesus standing there with them, yet through this ministry Christ is risen indeed and feeding his people.