The week before Christmas, Denver asked Larimer County for some help. So many migrants were fleeing to Denver that they needed some support, especially during one of the coldest weeks of the year.
Our team of community chaplains are a part of Larimer County’s Behavioral Health response team when a disaster or other crises happens. We welcomed around 60 people from Venezuela, Cuba, and Guatemala.
When they got here, most had very little for clothing and they hadn’t had a full meal in months. The first half of that week, spiritual and mental health care looked like purchasing, gathering, and asking for basic necessities- shoes, coats, hair brushes, lotion. The first few days, the air felt heavy with loss, trauma, and pain. Many of them had left behind family, and some had lost loved ones along the trip. But as the week went on, as they were better clothed and fed, the atmosphere lifted. They started gathering around the tables and playing games, and they began asking if they could make their traditional foods.
Soon the basement of the church they were staying in filled with the aromas of some of their favorite foods. They fed anyone who showed up. After that week, many of the group received bus tickets (paid for by the interfaith community, including Heart of the Rockies) to be nearer to family or friends here in the US. But around a dozen people decided to make Fort Collins home. They are still making food in the basement of that church and have dreams to build a new place to eat here.
There is something about gathering around a table, even in the hardest of circumstances, that brings hope and joy to all who break bread together. It isn’t just that the food we eat at the table sustains us, it is that for a small moment, everything is set aside to say, “This is important, what you have been through is hard, and who you are is beloved.” It’s at the table that Jesus and generations of people afterwards, take time to say, “This gathering is important. What you have been through is hard, you are so loved, and you are not alone in this.”
At this table all are welcome and invited, and all will be fed.
It was on a night when many were feeling afraid and alone, when Jesus was betrayed by one of his friends, that Jesus took the bread, blessed it and broke it, and gave it to his disciples saying, “This is my body, given for you.” And in the same way after supper, Jesus took the cup, he blessed it, and then he poured it out saying, “This is the cup of the new covenant, poured out for the forgiveness of sins.”
Whenever you eat of this bread and drink of this cup, do so in remembrance of me.
This communion invitation was given in worship by the Rev. Erin Tyler in worship on Sunday, February 12. The community chaplaincy program is co-lead by two ordained ministers from our congregation, Rev. Erin Tyler and Rev. Donna Greene and Rev. Michael Stadtmueller of Our Saviour’s Lutheran Church.