o, when was the last time you bought a toaster, and how much did you pay for it? Maybe $25 if you’re working on a tight budget, or around $50 if you’re looking for something that will last, right? Even if you bought yourself some high-end European-style chrome model, it can’t have cost you more than a $100.
Well, the subject of toasters came up in connection with our ongoing relationship with Agape Table, the local community nutrition program that works out of the All Saints Church hall, offering food and hospitality to as many as 250 people each day. As they say on their own website, “Agape Table is committed to providing a community based program, nourishing the body, mind, and spirit of our guests in a cost effective and financially responsible manner.” That has always seemed to us to be a great set of commitments, so from our earliest days we’ve been gathering fresh fruit for them, as well as sending volunteers their way. We’ve spent some hours gardening alongside of the sisters at St Benedict’s Monastery, bringing boxes of freshly harvested vegetables back for Agape, and for the past two years we’ve been part of hosting an open house with them on the February statutory holiday.
For each of the last two years we’ve also designated a gift of $1000 to support their work, and this year rather than just making a general donation we decided to consult with the staff and volunteers to see if there was something in particular we could purchase for them. Almost without delay, the request came back: we need a new toaster. “Sure”, I thought, “but then how will we spend the rest of the money?”
And then the word came: that toaster will need to be a proper commercial unit, the price-tag on which will be about $1000. That must be some toaster…
So the purchase has been made, and the new commercial toaster is in use five mornings a week, cranking out an apparently endless stream of nicely done pieces of toast. That’s good.
Interesting, too, that the second item on the Agape Table wish list was also worth about $1000. It seems that day after day they run out of hot water in the church kitchen, due to the fact that the aging water heater just can’t keep up. Well, a few people caught word of that, and have decided that they’re going to just get together and donate the extra money needed to replace the tank. That’s also good.
Agape Table does a good and important piece of work, and with their increasing emphasis on moving past just filling empty stomachs and instead seeking to “nourish body, mind and spirit”, their work becomes all the more significant. For our church community to be in a place of supporting Agape and of collaborating with them in their ministry is also significant, for it is a steady reminder that a church community which finds its life in the sharing of bread and wine at the communion table must not and cannot ever forget the hungers of our neighbours.
And you know, sometimes things as simple as a decent piece of toast matter. They just do.