Breaking (and Baking) Bread Together

By JJ Benkert

Like many of us now, trying to navigate through the world, I felt called to reach out to Gerald Matthes, a dear friend, fellow parishioner and owner of a small business like myself. Gerald told me that until the Governor lifts the “Stay-at-Home” restrictions, he had to temporarily close his  Give Thanks Bakery in Rochester. As we were commiserating about the unique challenges small business owners were facing, Gerald shared a story that sounded to me like a modern update of a well-known miracle story:

After the Give Thanks Bakery closed, their head baker, Chris Housholder (pictured), had an idea. If Gerald would supply the use of the bakery’s bread oven, Chris would try to raise the funds to purchase the necessary ingredients and then deliver the bread to various shelters in downtown Detroit. Those who know Gerald, know of his generous heart. Of course he told Chris, “Go for it!”  So Chris set-up a GO-FUND-ME donation page and within four hours, had raised the $1300 he needed and got to work:  Working five days a week, preparing the dough, baking the bread, wrapping the loaves, he had 80 loaves of bread which he delivered to various shelters in Detroit.

And then it grew…

Soon after, a fellow employee, Clare Sherman, found out what he was doing, she offered to split the days and now drives from Grand Rapids every other day to help multiply this labor of love.

This simple little story of generosity in the face of scarcity brought a smile to my face and warmed my heart.  This is such a hard time for small business owners.  And there is such a temptation to be gripped and paralyzed by fears of the future.  I just appreciate so much, this reminder that if we keep our eyes and our hearts open, our holy imaginations can show us how we too can be part of the ongoing miracle that once multiplied five loaves to feed thousands.

I leave you with this thought…

If you’re in a situation that needs a miracle, give God room to work through ways you never imagined. Sometimes the miracle is not what you expect, but what God knows you need.