Answering the Call to "Feed My Sheep"

Many of those who know me know that my favorite piece of scripture is this one:

When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my lambs.” A second time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Tend my sheep.” He said to him the third time, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” Peter felt hurt because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” And he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep." John 21: 15-17

In yesterday's blog post from Ellen Dollar, she quite eloquently (as usual) articulated both the Christian need and desire to help those for whom life is more difficult. Those of you who know me know that I feel very strongly that one of the primary ways we are called by Jesus to do this is by addressing the basic human need for proper and abundant nutrition. As Jesus reminds Peter; if we love him we will "feed his sheep." While this answer may have deep and abiding spiritual implications, I believe very strongly that Jesus' ministry shows us that he is also talking in the literal. Sometimes when we want to reach somebody's heart, we first need to fill their bellies. We all know that a hungry child has more difficulty learning in school than a full one.

food photo

This practice of making feeding others an integrated part of our day, of our corporate worship and of our children's lives would not only have a practical application of actually feeding people, it would instill in our children and each other the Gospel value of caring for others. Beginning today, there will be receptacles around the church for you to place your nonperishable foods to be distributed through the West Hartford Food Pantry, the Hartford Catholic Worker and here at St. James's to those coming to us hungry and need of something to eat.

I look forward to this being the beginning of something big and long practiced in the life of this parish and the lives of its members.

The Rev. Bob Hooper is the rector of St. James’s Episcopal Church. He blogs for St. James’s most Tuesdays, reflecting on the community, parish life and (being Rector) anything else he likes.

The Reverend Robert C. Hooper III

The Rev’d Robert C. Hooper III (“Bob,” please) and his wife Priscilla married in 1988 and have three children and an adorable yellow labrador retriever named "Lilly." Bob received a B.S. in business/marketing from New England College in 1987 and a M.Div. from Virginia Theological Seminary in 1995. He was ordained to the priesthood in 1996 after seven years in the brokerage and banking industry in New York. He served parishes in both Northern Virginia and suburban Boston before coming to St. James’s in 2002 to serve as rector.