Why and How to Minister with Meals

I’ve written a number of times about bringing a home-cooked meals to people.

It’s a time-honored tradition, one my family and I benefited from richly following the birth of our second son in St. Andrews, Scotland. When there are new babies, or when there is illness or death, bringing a meal, far from being a mere symbolic gesture, does at least 2 things:

1. It lets the person/family off the hook from planning/shopping/preparing dinner.

2. It lets them know that they are not doing this “thing” (cancer, grieving, new parenthood) alone.

{These observations are from my friend Ellen’s post this week–she learned firsthand the power of meals when she had cancer and she and her family were fed for 8 weeks by friends, acquaintances, and a few people they’d never even met!

“And it suddenly made sense, this impulse to feed people who are going through something life-altering.”

Recently I became aware of a nifty website that aims to facilitate such sharing of meals. It’s called MealTrain.com, and it’s an easy way to organize meals for someone. It’s free, you can put the word out via email and/or Facebook, and it allows you to note the receiving family’s preferences and/or allergies as well as to indicate what you plan to bring (so that the new family doesn’t end up with lasagna–or whatever–4 nights in a row.)

And it’s free!

Meals are a great way to communicate love and care in a variety of circumstances–

  • when a new family moves into a community
  • when there is a death
  • when someone is ill, injured, or hospitalized
  • when someone has had a miscarriage, or during a difficult pregnancy
  • when there is a new baby
  • when someone’s spouse has been recently deployed

Maybe you can think of more reasons. Whatever the reasons, a meal given to someone is a means of grace made edible. I don’t want to go all preachy on you, so I’ll just say this: think of a time when you were so tired, or sad, or overwhelmed, or lonely, and cooking dinner was really the last thing you wanted to have to worry about. Imagine what it would’ve meant to have a friendly face show up with a meal made especially for you.

What have been your experiences of giving and receiving meals? Have you used MealTrain?

(Just to be clear–I’m writing about Meal Train because I like what they’re doing, not because I’m receiving anything for doing so!)

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