Sunday, February 28, 2016

Love Feast: The Parable of the Long Spoons

I was very active in a campus ministry group during college. I attended dinner, program, and Bible study twice a week, along with national and international mission trips with my beloved campus ministry. Every Valentine's Day, the campus minister hosted a Love Feast where we all fed one another. I wanted to replicate the Love Feast with my current youth group, but I couldn't quite recall the details of the story. After lots of Google searches, I found the Parable of the Long Spoons and gathered everything necessary for our Love Feast. It was a a fun, simple, and hopefully memorable reminder to have compassion and serve one another.

To host your own Love Feast, you need a variety of bite size foods. (I served halved strawberries, cheese cubes, small brownies, tiny sugar cookies, chips and salsa, and pretzels.)
You also need something that will straighten the participants' arms so they cannot bend. The guy at Lowe's said I could take as many paint stirrers as I wanted, so I grabbed several dozen. I used duct tape and packaging tape to secure the paint stirrers, simply because we already had a few rolls. You could also use rubber bands or twine.

I texted the youth ahead of time, requesting they wear long sleeve shirts or a thin jacket to youth group. (I didn't want them to rip out arm hair when removing the tape.) When we were ready to begin the activity, I asked them to help one another tape a paint stirrer to each arm. Of course, this provoked lots of laughter and curiosity. While they did that, I set up a table with food.

We gathered around the table of food while I read the following parable to the group. (There are many versions on the web.)

One day a man said to God, "God, I would like to know what Heaven and Hell are like." 
God showed the man two doors. Inside the first one, in the middle of the room, was a large table filled with fruit, cheese, pastries, and a large pot of stew. It smelled delicious and made the man's mouth water, but the people sitting around the table were thin and sickly. They appeared to be famished. All the diners' arms were tied to slots of wood that kept their arms extended. In this position, the poor souls were unable to bend the spoons to their mouths. Hell was filled with the hungry, tortured by the fact that they were so close to the most amazing food imaginable and yet could not eat it. 
The man shuddered at the sight of their misery and suffering. God said, "You have seen Hell." 
Behind the second door, the room appeared exactly the same. The man saw Heaven was exactly the same: long tables, hungry souls, strapped arms, unable to bend their hands to their mouths to eat. Yet the people were well nourished and plump. The room was filled with laughter, talking, and music. 
The man said, "I don't understand, God." 
God smile and said, "It is simple. Love only requires one skill." The souls in heaven sat across from each other, not struggling to feed themselves, but merrily feeding the person sitting across from them. These people learned to share and feed one another, while the greedy only think of themselves.

The teens laughed, talked, and fed one another. The Love Feast will remain one of my favorite activities that show the importance of living in community, sharing our resources, and caring for our neighbors.

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