Most of us walk by it on Sundays when leaving the sanctuary after church. Yet it is easy to overlook then, because we are all so busy greeting each other. I talk about the old immigrantâ€™s chest that sits by the wall just as you enter the breezeway when coming from the church. I call it an immigrantâ€™s chest, because this is how many of them looked in centuries past.
The tradition, however, is much older than immigration to America. It goes back to Martin Luther who wanted to establish a social support system for the poor. So back in the 1500â€™s, the famous reformer advised congregations to put a chest for the poor in the sanctuary and to leave monetary donations there. Church officials would then organize the purchase and distribution of the goods.
Our chest for the poor does not contain money. Instead, we collect paper goods and non-perishable food items for our townâ€™s soup kitchen, Elijahâ€™s Promise, here. And I just learned that Elijahâ€™s Promise is again in sincere need of paper goods. So, if you have a chance on a Sunday morning and you happen to remember good old Martin Luther, why donâ€™t you drop something in the chest? It will be received in gratitude.
However, if you would like to know a little more about Elijahâ€™s Promise, come and join various volunteers of our church for less than two hours on every second Friday at the soup kitchen on 18 Neilson Street. We start at 5:00 p.m. with preparing the dining room, and we serve from 6:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. The clean-up usually is left to another crew.