Today's Lectionary Text
1 Corinthians 3:8The one who plants and the one who waters work together, but each one will receive their own reward for their own labor.
The Kansas State Fair opens for its 2021 run today. The fair brings lots of traffic to Hutchinson – and lots of dollars to the economy. It also brings lots of traditions and memories for hundreds of thousands of Kansans. (And I’m sure the same is true for Nebraskans and the Nebraska State Fair!) Lots of those traditions and memories revolve around what is commonly called “fair food” – deep-fried treats that are usually a once-a-year indulgence.
But for the church where I spent more than half of my life, the Kansas State Fair has been a mission field revolving around food for 70-odd years. South Hutchinson UMC is known to many people throughout the state as “the chicken noodle church” because it has served up millions of servings of chicken and noodles (as well as other entrees) and fresh-made pies at the State Fairgrounds cafeteria for all those years. And, as long as the cafeteria was in its own building, the breakfast line shut down at 10 a.m. Sundays and a worship service was offered for anyone who wanted to participate.
The cafeteria began as a project to raise funds for a new church. That church is now the education building. And the state fair project also made possible the current sanctuary and parsonage. But the people of the church didn’t stop after accomplishing those things. The funds raised through the work at the State Fairgrounds have gone towards a variety of missions in the ensuing years.
The State Fair itself is a major mission for the church as the cafeteria offers the church’s hospitality to far more people in the fair’s ten-day run than it can in the church building throughout the rest of the year.
The congregation learned a long time ago that, as Paul indicated to the church at Corinth, it takes many people working together to be the church of Jesus Christ. That work includes offering regular Sunday worship and Christian education, weekday childcare, family activities, and community outreach throughout the year. But for this church, it also involves baking pies, making salads, serving up hot food from a steam table or keeping the cold table supplied with servings of salads and desserts. In the past, it also meant carrying trays of heavy crockery loaded with food for patrons and running the restaurant style dish washer for 4 hours (or more) at a time. It even means that some of us who no longer claim membership at SHUMC come back to work a shift during the State Fair. (I’ll be there over the lunch shift on Monday and Tuesday, if you happen to come to the Fair early in the week!)
It takes all of us – those who plant, those who water, those who harvest, and all the jobs in between those – to be the church in the world. By working together, side by side, at the tasks we do best, we best serve the needs of Christ’s church.
--Rev. Robbie Fall, retired elder
Prayer for Reflection
In all that I do, O God, show me the ways in which I can bring your kingdom close by working side by side with those who have gifts differing from my own.
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