Monday, August 05, 2013

An Atheist's Gift to the Church

For the Soup Kitchen

We called it Christ's Kitchen. The way it worked was that ANYONE could walk in the doors of the parish hall every morning Monday to Thursday and Saturday (that way you'll never be without a meal two days in a row. It was warm in the winter and cool in the summer. You and your whole family were welcome to come in out of the elements. Breakfast was served at 8:30am, and lunch was served at around 11:30. We closed the doors at noon.

We made special efforts for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and other holidays. We brought out the silver chafing dishes, and did it up right. We honored the Christ's Kitchen clientele as we would any honored dinner guest.

There was an atheist in town who came to see me in my office and told me that he wanted to give us $250,000 for our efforts in the kitchen. The money was not to be used for the church. It was to be used for "Christ's Kitchen". 

He wanted the money used not for what we said we believed.

He wanted it used for what we did.

He said what we did had more of the sound to Jesus to him than what we said in church.

I am a priest I hasten to add that what we do in church is very meaningful to me. But this gift has always struck me as especially meaningful.

There is a lesson in there for Christians, non Christians, atheists and others too.

Interestingly, Jesus said exactly the same thing.

"Not everyone who says to me Lord, Lord will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of the Father who is in heaven." 

It is as the recovery folks say; "Walk the Walk; Don't talk the talk".

Fr Paul


Ken Wyman said...

Is this a true story or an urban myth?

"Fr. Paul" Bresnahan said...

Ken this is a true story. It happened at St Mark's Episcopal Church in St Albans West Virginia, a church that houses Christ's Kitchen, a rather well known local soup kitchen. I was rector there from 1995-2006