(and other supplies not covered by food stamps)
In the spring Dwight Wolter shared his congregation’s mission project of blessing the toilet paper. Our little church in Madbury decided to do so as well and yesterday, August 9 we dedicated those things which were offered. Here is the liturgy which we used.
1 Corinthians 12: 12, 14, 21-26 (NRSV)
For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. Indeed, the body does not consist of one member but of many. The eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I have no need of you’, nor again the head to the feet, ‘I have no need of you.’ On the contrary, the members of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and those members of the body that we think less honorable we clothe with greater honor, and our less respectable members are treated with greater respect; whereas our more respectable members do not need this. But God has so arranged the body, giving the greater honor to the inferior member, that there may be no dissension within the body, but the members may have the same care for one another. If one member suffers, all suffer together with it; if one member is honored, all rejoice together with it.
In the body politic that is our welfare system, there are favored items – milk, meat, vegetables, bread and fruit. People are able to receive them all. The milk does not say to the bread, “you have too many carbs – this family has no need of you” nor the broccoli to the apples, “move over, red-face, and let the real vitamins shine.”
But there are groceries that are considered less respectable and food stamps cannot pay for them – toilet paper, Pampers, Depends, tissues for our tears, detergent so we can go to a job or school with pride.
We are the Body of Christ and so we dedicate these humble, often-joked-about, and desperately needed items so that all members of the human community can affirm that, if one of us is ashamed, all of us must hide our faces; if one of us has access to personal products, all of us feel the care, the respect.
And Jesus told a parable in Matthew 25 that sounded something like this … (responsively)
Come blessed by God –
for I was a baby,
and you gave me a diaper.
I was a teenager,
and you kept me from going to the
school nurse for sanitary supplies.
I grew old and incontinent,
and you gave me dignity.
I had a little bit of kitchen,
and you helped me
keep it bright and spotless
for my family.
I needed to brush my teeth,
wash my hair, shave my chin,
put on some lipstick and smile,
and you believed
I’m made in the image of God.
And those who were gathered asked –
“When did we see you
as a baby, a teenager, a senior?
When did we see you stirring a pot
or looking in the mirror?”
And Jesus said, “Truly I tell you –
just as you did it for these
least members of my family,
you did it for me.”
(Volunteers come forward to lift up particular items)
God, who creates your human children with dignity and hope, you have given us all clean hearts. Receive and bless these offerings of cleanliness that they may help where there is need. Open our minds to understand the small humiliations in life and be ever willing to multiply and share not only bread loaves but paper rolls, in the name of Jesus the Christ who lifts us up and guides our hands in generosity. Amen.