To the family to whom we are giving a meal because they are going through a challenging time:

When we hand you a dish with homemade lasagna and a salad kit, or spaghetti casserole, or a turkey hot dish, we’re not merely saying “be warm and well fed”. Here are a few ideas we want you to understand and consider while you’re sitting down to eat it.

1. Please enjoy this meal.
“Be warm and well fed” isn’t the only thing we are saying, but we are saying it. We want your family to have this meal to eat today and we hope your stomachs are filled and you find it delicious and satisfying.

2. We stand with your family.
As you walk through this crisis, please know that you are not alone. If you’ve just had a baby, we are joyful with you. If you’ve just lost a baby, we are grieving with you. We aren’t experiencing what you are, but we are on your team.

3. It’s understandable if you don’t feel like making a meal.
Here’s a thought that I hope no one in a church ever thinks: “My kids have just lost a grandparent, and now they have a mom who can’t even put together a supper.” You’re in crisis mode. It’s reasonable that you have your mind on other things. It’s reasonable if building up the inertia to cook dinner is difficult right now.

4. We want your family to have times of rest.
Long hospital visits have a cost. A new baby is hard work. Preparing for a funeral is a complex challenge. Please give yourself a break as you sit down to eat this.

5. Your God wants you to feel loved by the church.
So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith. (Galatians 6:10 ESV)
Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality. (Romans 12:13)
Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace: (1 Peter 4:8-10)
As we’re giving you a meal, we’re doing what God is telling us to do. He wants this for you.

6. We hope you are experiencing moments of joy.
Another thought I don’t want anyone in church to think: “My spouse is in extreme discomfort because of the radiation therapy. It’s not right if I feel any bits of momentary happiness” Yes, it is. It’s okay. It’s right there in the Second Corinthians: “Sorrowful yet always rejoicing”. As we hand the meal to you, we’re praying that you’ll be surprised by joy (not to mention peace) that passes all understanding but is nevertheless real and God given. And maybe this meal can be a part of it.

7. Please know Grace exists.
When a gift is given, it’s not uncommon for the receiver to say, “Oh, you didn’t have to do that.” This is true. There is no law or moral code that says we must give meals. Just like there was no law or moral code that says that God had to provide a way of salvation for us. But He did, at great cost for His Son. A much greater cost than that of this meal. If you are feeling like you don’t deserve to receive it, remember: It doesn’t matter.

Our family has experienced the death of family members, hospital stays, two broken arms and the arrival of eight children. As such, we’ve been given many more meals than we have given to others. These seven messages are what I’ve heard when we’ve eaten the delicious and satisfying food provided by others. A meal given in difficult times is God speaking through his servants. To you.

Is this what you’re saying when you give a meal to someone?

If you’d like to print this out and put it in the grocery bag that you hand to the next family you give a meal to, be my guest.