(Note: The characters in this series are fictional, but their experiences are based on true life stories.)
Muriel was cleaning up from dinner when the phone rang. Mark ran from his room and answered it. "Mum, it’s for you! It’s some lady from the church!" he shouted, as he put the receiver down and ran back to his room. "Oh good," Muriel thought to herself, "an excuse to stop doing dishes."
She dried her hands and picked up the receiver. "Hi Muriel, this is Joyce." Muriel had a vague picture of who Joyce was. "You may have noticed," Joyce continued, "the announcement in the Sunday worship folder about our church’s Thanksgiving dinner for low-income families. I was wondering if you would be interested in helping to put it on?"
"What would be involved?" Muriel asked, a little worried about taking on one more thing.
"We can use all kinds of help," Joyce said, "but would you be willing to be there on Thanksgiving Day to help set up the hall, or to help serve, or to help clean up afterwards."
Muriel thought to herself, "Well, I’m sure not gonna help wash dishes!" So she said to Joyce, "I wouldn’t mind serving." Then she thought for a moment about what she and her eight-year-old son would be doing for Thanksgiving. "Can my son Mark come too?"
On the evening of Thanksgiving Day, Muriel and Mark went to the church to lend a hand with the Thanksgiving dinner. What she encountered went beyond her expectations. There were all kinds of people from the church and others she didn’t recognize, men and women, old and young, carving turkeys, stirring pots, setting up tables and chairs, laughing, talking and getting ready to make a feast for others.
When the doors opened, there was a small flood of humanity that streamed into take their places at the tables. They were men and women, children and seniors, some looking worn and haggard, some looking like anyone at the mall. Muriel was asked to carry out platters of turkey meat and bowls of mashed potatoes and dressing and cranberries. Mark was asked to pour water and juice and tea and coffee for the guests.
At the end of the meal, there was a short program led by the minister and some musicians. After the guests left, Mark asked to stay and help clean up. He was having a great time and didn’t want it to end! Muriel agreed.
As she helped with scrubbing out the pots, she said to Joyce’s husband Bill, who was also up to his elbows in dishes, "I’ve never had so much fun cleaning up from dinner!"
"That’s the power of community," Bill said, "and the power of doing something good for others."
Material prepared by Rev. Curtis Aguirre, pastor of Hope Lutheran Church, Nanaimo, B.C. and provided courtesy of Canada Lutheran.