Every Wednesday night at 6:15, seventeen rowdy, ravenous teenagers raid my kitchen. It's perhaps the best hour of my week.
Let me be clear. For most of my fifty-four years I have declared to anyone who would listen: "I don't like teenagers." They can be sarcastic and self-involved. But then again…so can I. But it's more than that: They make me nervous. They give blank stares. They cut with silence. In groups, they laugh a laugh that says, "We're in…you're not." (If this is starting to sound like baggage from my own adolescence, it is no doubt because it is.)
So how did I end up chief cook and bottle washer for this gang?
In a word…GOD! When my own child turned 14, he started attending a Bible study led by a college student in a dorm room 50 minutes away. The drive was awful.
"Tell you what," I told the study leader. "Meet at our house, and I'll make brownies…Huge fudgy brownies." And so the group moved here. They met at six o'clock. The kids arrived tired and hungry from practicing whatever sport they played, and somehow, just like that, brownies became spaghetti. There were only four of them. I figured I'd rather cook pasta than drive two hours any day.
Feed my lambs.
In what is potentially one of the most puzzling conversations in the Bible, Jesus makes the same statement to Peter three times:
Feed my lambs.
It took me more than three times to get the message.
Yes, yes…I understand we are to feed the lambs, young Christians, the milk of the Word of God, but I think we're also called to fill some bellies. The New Testament makes much of caring for one another's basic human needs, and failure to offer hospitality takes its place in a list of pretty grievous sins.
My first word from God on this ...