all our needs
I’m thinking about Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. And Elijah. And you, me, us. Jesus and ministries. Our baseline needs are physiological. Food first.
God started with Elijah’s hunger- feeding him through ravens, through the widow, through the messenger baking fresh flatbread. Jesus’ relationship to food- his hunger, provision, and thanks- identified him to his followers. Jesus fed the crowds, dined with Pharisees and sinners, broiled fish on a beach for his disciples.
The cost of food is rising; healthy food is out of reach for those who need it most. Fresh-baked flatbread and just-caught broiled fish are expensive gourmet fare. Are we feeding our neighbors as we would like to be fed? Daily Bread provides hot lunch and sack dinners to over 200 C-U guests per day. NCF funds kids’ nutrition through Eastern IL Foodbank, Peace Meal for seniors, the Randolph St Community Garden and is home to the Greater Community AIDS Project food pantry. It’s time to check in with those ministries and see how they are faring; what are their unmet needs?
God sheltered Elijah by a brook, in a home, in caves. Jesus stayed with tax collectors, moved from house to house, and provided for his mother’s shelter in his last breath.
New Covenant’s tradition of advocating for shelter began in the radical hippy years. We’ve been home to various shelters these last five years- emergency men’s, temporary women’s, low-barrier safety for the most vulnerable. I look forward to a July update from CU at Home, reconnecting with Restoration Urban Ministries, and progress toward a permanent home for the low-barrier shelter. As God knew long before Abraham Maslow’s 1943 pyramid, meeting food and shelter needs come first.
Healing was a core aspect of Jesus’ ministry. Arguably more than feeding and sheltering. I look again at our Ministry Support Budget to see how we are participating in the healing of our neighbors. Prescription funds, holistic healthcare, and helping women escape domestic violence. These too are in the basic needs category for health and safety.
Elijah’s crisis in the desert stemmed from his psychological needs for belonging, love, and a sense of accomplishment. God cares about those needs too- providing presence, time and space to wander, and then a companion to journey with him and carry on the work. Elisha ministered to Elijah, so that he never again experienced the isolation and doubt that plagued him in the cave. That context expands my understanding of Elisha’s refusal to leave his side.
Elijah said to Elisha, “Stay here, because the Lord has sent me to Bethel.” But Elisha said, “As the Lord lives and as you live, I won’t leave you.” So they went down to Bethel.
Elijah said, “Elisha, stay here, because the Lord has sent me to Jericho.” But Elisha said, “As the Lord lives and as you live, I won’t leave you.” So they went to Jericho.
Elijah said to Elisha, “Stay here, because the Lord has sent me to the Jordan.” But Elisha said, “As the Lord lives and as you live, I won’t leave you.” So both of them went on together. 2 Kings 2:2,4,6 (CEB)
Elijah had achieved his full potential, the top of the pyramid, at which point the Lord would take him in a windstorm. His basic needs for food, shelter, and safety had long been met. His need for companionship and accomplishment, with God as the only true judge and giver of prestige, was complete. No wonder Elisha wanted a double measure of his spirit.
Each of us has needs. Our neighbors have needs, at all levels. God wants to meet our needs, and supply our neighbors’ lack through us. May we be open to receiving God’s provision. May we be the means of meeting our neighbors’ needs. May we too be taken up to heaven to be with the Lord.