A Maundy Thursday Meditation by 1st Year Confirmand Kole Wollenschlager

IMG_5611 copyOn January 17thof this year, St. John’s Newfoundland received more than 76 cm of snow in 8 days. Newfoundland was in a state of emergency. Snow drifts buried cars and houses. They forced stores and businesses to stay closed because there was too much snow to clear the streets. People could not go to work, and they did not get paid. The neighbours helped one another out as best they could.   In Toronto, a private equity firm was moved by the story and how the city had the courage and spirit to work together, so they decided to help the town by donating enough money to provide 500 families of four with food.  St. John’s was very happy and thankful for the firm’s kindness and generosity.

This story reminds me of Mark, Chapter 8, where he tells the story of Jesus’s feeding the four thousand people.  There were lots of people that were hungry and needed food. That’s when Jesus helped out. He took a small amount of food, 7 loaves of bread, and miraculously fed four thousand people. What Jesus did was very nice and helpful, and the community was very happy with the gesture, just as the people living in St. John’s were with the gift they had received.

This story inspired me because it was a true act of kindness, generosity, and being in mission for others.   As many of Jesus’s followers had travelled a great distance, so this company decided to help out a community a great distance away, over 3,000 km away, in fact.  They were inspired to help the people of St. John’s because of the way the people had helped one another during and after this terrible storm. Similar acts of generosity also happen near Ottawa, much closer to home I have spent time with my grandparents, for example, volunteering at The Osgoode Emergency Food Cupboard, which is located in St. John Evangelist Church in Enniskerry. I have helped by packaging up food for those people in need.  The Food Cupboard is open every Saturday morning.  There are about 60 families on the list, and about 40 of those families access it regularly.  Most of the donations come from school food drives, local Churches, and individuals. Sometimes Churches, businesses and organizations will donate money to buy food and toiletries for the Food Cupboard. At my school in Kemptville, we do a food drive every fall to help support our local Food Bank.  Typically, most of the donations come in the fall and for Christmas, so by the time spring and summer roll around, resources are limited.

By providing food to the families of St. John’s, the Toronto firm had enabled them to focus on getting life back to normal, businesses to reopen, and people to be able to go back to work and start earning money to provide for their families.  Because Jesus fed the 4,000, they were able to continue their journey.  I think Jesus would be happy to see this selfless act of kindness and generosity that helped the people of St. John’s continue with their own journey.

Today we are facing a global pandemic, with Covid – 19.  Much as the storm shut down St. John’s for 8 days, this pandemic has shut down the entire world, putting many communities is a state of emergency indefinitely.  Businesses have had to close, leaving many people without an income. People are feeling anxious, stressed, and overwhelmed, with many unable to provide for their families. Store shelves are bare, and even more families need the support of food banks, which themselves are struggling to keep food on the shelves.   With springtime being a time that Food Bank supplies are already limited, it’s even more important to support our local food banks now.  Our own Church has started an online fundraising campaign to raise $12, 500 for the Partage Vanier Food Bank, in honour of our 125thanniversary.  So, whether it’s a donation to this campaign, or the Food Bank in your local area, please consider donating what you can and be in mission for others.

On this Maundy Thursday when we remember the kindness and service to others that Jesus was all about, we are reminded to do the same ourselves.  Jesus didn’t just wash the disciples’s feet. Jesus didn’t just host a last meal with the disciples.  Jesus was a servant to others in many different ways.

These days our church is really different.  We meet on Zoom for Confirmation Class.  We worship at home instead of going to church.  We spend a lot of time in the house with the same people.  We don’t eat out anymore or play with our friends the same way.  But we can be servants like Jesus.  We can show kindness to others in ways that practice physical distancing.  We can be in mission for others in the name of the One we remember this night.  We can be Maundy Thursday people from St John’s Newfoundland to St John’s Ottawa andall around the world.

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