Breaking Down the Barriers

The Nashville Food Project has been partnering with Trinity UMC, a church in North Nashville near the intersection of Trinity Lane and Dickerson Road, to host a sit-down community meal every Tuesday night. Our volunteers load nourishing foods onto our trucks and deliver them to the church’s fellowship hall. Members of the community help prepare the space with flowers, tablecloths, real plates and cups and forks and knives. People from all over gather at 6:30 for a blessing and a meal served family style.

The collective “buy-in” from the neighborhood has been awesome—community members are volunteering as table hosts, greeters and helping with set up and clean up.

Learning when to step up and learning when to step back and let others take the lead has been a real education for me and others who are used to being the “givers.” I am serious when I say the line between who is living with plenty and who is living in poverty is pretty blurred. Theologian Ted Jennings wrote in his book Good News to the Poor:

Breaking down the barriers between the givers and the receivers of aid, between those who have and those who have not, is an essential expression of the solidarity that liberates the privileged from their blindness and the marginalized from their invisibility. 

Yes. A million times yes!

There are gaggles of children from the neighborhood who want to gulp down their dinner as quickly as possible so they can move to the basketball court. There are babies (like my very own) in highchairs making smiling eyes at the big kids. There are single moms, old men, big families, recovering addicts, church people, people living on the street, me and you. The room can get loud, the meal can feel hectic, but more than anything, people feel welcome.

Above all, maintain constant love for one another, for love covers a multitude of sins. Be hospitable to one another without complaining. Like good stewards of the manifold grace of God, serve one another with whatever gift each of you has received. Whoever speaks must do so as one speaking the very words of God; whoever serves must do so with the strength that God supplies, so that God may be glorified in all things through Jesus Christ. To him belong the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen. 1 Peter 4:8-11

Come break the bread with us one Tuesday night. God’s grace and peace, tallu