Even in difficult times, and perhaps especially in difficult times it is important to find ways to incarnate the Good News of God’s love. This is our challenge. In the manger God demonstrated the lengths to which He is willing to go. No one could have predicted His demonstration. It was the ultimate in creative solutions. When we creatively address questions of how to incarnate this message during covid, we are imitating Him!
From its founding Church Army, called Threshold Ministries in Canada, has been focussed on ministry to the marginalised. I have tried to walk in this tradition. In 20 20 ministry took an unexpected turn. My ministry became marginalised by covid 19! The year began with grand plans. We were going to continue our Drop In and Bible Study ministry in the inner-city and expand to the creation of a Christian Community designed to disciple recovered men to become ‘Bringers of Hope’ to the wider community.
All of this has been placed, with a thud, on the shelf. God though has had a plan. This pandemic did not take him by surprise. I have had to learn how to serve Him from the margins. In laughable ways I have sought to use digital means to do my Bible Study. My phone has become my means of contact and counsel. These are instruments I do not particularly care for. I have learned to dive deeper in the word of God. I have become more disciplined in prayer. I have learned to use creativity where the old ways are impossible.
Each year our small inner-city house church gathers for a Christmas Feast. This year we were on “Orange” and could not meet. I arranged delivery of a Swiss Chalet Festive Dinner to each of us and we celebrated together while apart. The feedback has been wonderful. My friends loved the ‘gravy’ (dipping sauce), and none had ever tasted quality chocolates like the Lindt ones that arrived. It was not the same, but it was wonderful in very real sense.
Street Hope has started a tradition of holding a Christmas Banquet. This too was endangered by covid. I began to think about having a ‘Take Out’ banquet, but health questions made this a difficult needle to thread. I approached my wife’s genius brother-in-law Russel Dobbelsteyn of the Chefs Table with the idea of a Banquet in a Box. He created a savory charcuterie feast.
Marketing the Banquet in a Box was the next challenge. Church bulletins, church bulletin Boards, and Church announcements were not as readily available. Personal appeal opportunities were limited. Again, I took to Social Media. Slowly we began to sell boxes. I took a chance and ordered 100 from Chef Rus not knowing if I could reach that number. Soon people began to ask if they could buy one and donate it to someone who needed it more. My usual sources are not readily available to me, so this took more prayer and creativity than in years past. I called a friend from church to inquire about how many people attended the weekly Community Dinner that local churches sponsor on the East Side of Saint John. He informed me that during covid the numbers had doubled from 20 to 40 people coming each Saturday. Again, in faith I agreed that we would supply a box for each individual that came the day of our Banquet. I am happy to report that Chef Rus created a delicious box and Linda’s sister Betty decorated each box beautifully. We had enough boxes donated to give one to each individual that came to the Community (take out supper).The folks from our church were serving that day and they relayed how blessed people were by this gift. I had some wonderful conversations in the parking lot of Threshold House, as I delivered boxes to car doors. The feedback has been extraordinary!