In his book “Meditations of the Heart” Howard Thurman tells the story of a man walking along the sidewalk. In front of him is a paper bag and a small flock of birds pecking at it to no avail. The man bends down, tears open the paper bag, and pours out the crumbs on the sidewalk. As he continues on, the birds return to consume their now accessible feast. In Thurman’s telling of the story, the man continues on without ever giving the birds so much as a backward glance.
But I wonder if perhaps the backward glance is a good thing. If, perhaps, the backward glance, the observation, reveals our natural human desire and delight. Allow me to explain…
My church is preparing to conclude our annual Stewardship campaign. This year, people are invited to “pledge” (along with their money) a talent or skill with which they can serve the church. I came up with this idea (which means, if it flops, I gotta own it!). But honestly, I’m excited and hopeful to see what people will offer. I wonder how creative people will/can potentially become at visioning and dreaming ways to serve one another. And if they do, when they do, I want to watch it unfold. I want to see the paper bag torn open and the gifts, the feast, come pouring out.
It goes without saying that, when we Christians speak of “serving God,” what we really are talking about is serving others. We serve Christ by serving others. And that, I imagine, is what binds us together. While reward, praise or gratitude shouldn’t be our motivation for serving, what could possibly be wrong with our longing to see the joy our service brings to the lives of others. I want to celebrate what I can do for you. And I want you to celebrate what you can do for me. And, most of all, I want us to celebrate together.
In Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, he reassures us that our Heavenly Father feeds the birds and us. And I don’t doubt it at all. But perhaps God feeds us all by providing opportunities as we journey down the sidewalk of life for us to pour out crumbs of kindness for one another.