When we began meeting with the Church of The Triumphant Christ we quickly became aware of a small feeding program that was struggling to continue with the children of Ascona. The difficulty came in the overwhelming need and the finite resources. Leaders were concerned about how little transformation seemed to be taking place, how little contact the church was having with parents and guardians of the children, and how little impact a program operating one day a week was actually able to accomplish in light of the need.
There were strong feelings in the room as we explored our options, feelings we have personally experienced, common amongst those who work with the poor. Complex feelings if we are being honest.
Rather than abandoning the program, the team chose to explore new images to help us reflect on what was possible with our mustard seed. The vision that came forward was the Last Supper, the celebration of Christ’s death and resurrection as a community building act. We began to explore what kept parents away, what impact was possible with the small amount we had available, and where we could take the p program if we had a renewed vision for the ministry. We chose to relaunch not as a “feeding program,” but rather as an act of communion, celebration of community at Christ’s table. It was an image that allowed the gospel to reshape our actions.
We began to see how our previous engagement was alienating parents as it created shame. We allowed our service to be part of a larger vision for community by inviting our Ascona brothers and sisters to share in the bounty and the burden. The program is no longer programmatic. Instead of inviting people to the church, the church goes to the community, crossing boundaries and breaking barriers in ways that has encouraged both communities to share. It is driving away shame, allowing us to see first hand just how subversive the gospel can be as it undermines class structures and draws people together from different backgrounds. It is still small but it feels so much bigger and much more meaningful.