A few weeks ago I had the privilege to preach at Lutheran Church of the Redeemer in St Paul. About 20 minutes before the church service started, I got a message that the food truck’s catalytic converter had been stolen. Oh man, really? I thought, didn’t they see “pay-as-you-can cafe” writ large across the big blue truck? Shouldn’t that be enough to pass us up?
Catalytic converter theft is unfortunately common – just a few weeks earlier someone attempted to steal one off of my husband’s vehicle, and we’ve seen others complain of it all over the neighborhood on social media. It does throw an wrench into everything if it happens to you – time to navigate insurance, money to fix it, and a couple weeks without the big blue truck to serve as our giant billboard that we are open for lunch! Moments like these can make me feel like I’ve lost momentum, and wonder how we’re going to get back on track. How are we going to make a difference when we are jostled around by such big bumps on the way?
After I listened to the phone message on Sunday morning, I looked at the clock and saw that there wasn’t time to tend to the problem at the moment. Something more important was about to happen – Sunday worship, and I had the responsibility of preaching. The text was the Magnificat (Mary’s Song in Luke 1, see the full sermon HERE), and it turns out I preached to myself that day. Here’s a snippet:
Sometimes the work of justice can be incredibly overwhelming. How can it be that everyone gets shelter, food, water, safety, respect and love… let alone a life that has capacity for rest, laughter, joy? How can it be when we see so many who do not have what they need? How can we possibly continue to work for the well-being of our whole community when we continue to see the same problems stagnate and new ones arise?
But, then… Mary – “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior.”
She paints the stage of her prophecy with seed-planting joy, making way for the action of justice that follows suit. A justice that is rooted in the knowledge that the powerful will be brought down, and the humble will be raised because God has already done so by banishing the ultimate power of death forever. A justice that feeds the hungry now because God has already provided real food in fields and kitchens on this earth at this moment and on banquet tables in heaven that will last forever. A justice that can be seen in the seed-like smallness of a tiny baby yet to be born, prophesying the salvation and mercy for all God’s Beloved community, from generation to generation.
These past couple weeks we’ve had to serve lunch from a table outside – just like we did last winter while the truck was in storage. And, even without the truck, lunch is served! Some days have more people and some have less. Like always, even when we have extra meals they always go to a good home with one of our ministry partners (e.g. Safe House and Safe Space).
Don’t get me wrong – I am chomping at the bit to get the truck back (fingers crossed for later today!), but I am also aware that good ministry at Shobi’s Table is not dependent on whether or not we have the food truck, or any other one thing we think we can control. Good ministry, no matter where or what kind, is dependent on the One to whom it belongs – God. And God can do great things with anything – no matter how difficult and bumpy we perceive it to be. It may only feel like tiny seeds at the time, but God can create vast forests out of a handful of seeds. Lean into joy in the hard times – it may be the water of justice God is pouring on those sprouting seeds.
– Deacon Kari Alice Olsen, Director
ps. Want to read the full sermon on the Magnificat? Click HERE .
Getting Involved at Shobi’s Table
We’re always on the lookout for more folks to volunteer both in the kitchen and at the food truck. If you’re interested in coming to cook with us and/or be a food truck host, you can read all about it on our website (check here), and also reach out with questions to either Kari, our director, or Daniele, our Kitchen Manager. If you aren’t interested yourself, please think about others you know who would be, and send them our way.
One of the best ways to get better acquainted with the growing Shobi’s Table community and ministry is by coming to lunch. We are a pay-as-you-can cafe, which means that we’re not just a meal program for people who are food insecure, but we are a community that breaks down the barriers that often withhold nutritious, quality food from folks without sufficient funds to buy it. It only works when both those who can and those who can’t pay come to share the same meal together. So, if you ever catch yourself thinking that you shouldn’t come to Shobi’s Table because you’d be “taking a meal away from someone else” – rest assured that we need everyone at the table, including you!
Tuesday, Thursday or Friday – we’d love to see you!
One World Everybody Eats
We are proud to be part of One World Everybody Eats – a national network of pay-what-you-can cafes in the United States. Last week was National Everybody Eats Week, and we were encouraged with the reminder of how many other cafes are doing wonderful work to end hunger around a community table – nearly 50! Their core principles are what we strive to follow each week – social enterprise, guests determining what they can pay, guests can choose from a menu, everyone is welcome, having space for community, opportunity for volunteering, and excellent food. If you’d like to know more – check out their website, and visit us and other One World cafes in our area – Our Community Kitchen in Stillwater, and Provision Community Restaurant in Minneapolis.