Advent 2022

Dear friend of Loaves and Fishes:

As you know, our church, which founded and operates the Loaves and Fishes ministry, carries the name St. Stephen and the Incarnation. The days on the church calendar that correspond to this name fall during this time of year because the day of the Incarnation, when Jesus came to live on Earth, is Christmas Day, and the day after that, December 26, is for St. Stephen, the day designated for the first deacon and martyr, whose story is in the Book of Acts.

Why is “the Incarnation” as part of our name important, and what does it mean to Loaves and Fishes?

Christmas is a celebration of God taking on flesh and living among us as Jesus. Immanuel, another name for Jesus, means “God with us” — God incarnate as a human being like us.

While Jesus lived on Earth in 1st century Palestine, Jesus continues to make himself incarnate among us today in 21st century America. In Matthew 25, Jesus said that when we provide food to people who are hungry, it’s as if we are feeding Jesus himself. That means when we provide food at Loaves and Fishes, it’s as if Jesus is actually the one receiving the food!

What an amazing concept that Jesus visits Loaves and Fishes regularly! While many of us worship Jesus in the sanctuary at St. Stephen and the Incarnation, we often don’t think that at the same time, right beneath our feet in the basement, Jesus is also at Loaves and Fishes. But he is. Jesus comes in the form of men and women who show up in the morning on Saturdays, Sundays and federal holidays to receive a prepared meal. Some also take a bag of groceries home for meals later or to pass on to other people in need.

In the well-known Christmas carol “Away in a Manger,” we sing “no crying he makes” about the sweet, innocent baby Jesus of Christmas, and we sing about his birth as a long-ago, far-away event. But Jesus is the one who visits our church today with a stomach crying from hunger. He is incarnate among us here and now.

Jesus comes to Loaves and Fishes in the form of Jose (pictured). He says he likes Loaves and Fishes because it enables him and his family to have meals on the weekends.

Jesus is also incarnate in our building named after the Incarnation in the form of the mother who has a job or two but still struggles to feed her family fully. Or in the form of the elderly veteran who is battling substance abuse. Or in the form of a young, recently arrived immigrant who is having trouble finding steady work. Or in the form of the children who receive a meal at home made from the groceries their father brought home from the Loaves and Fishes grocery distribution.

We celebrate the Incarnation only once a year, but Loaves and Fishes operates during the entire year because Jesus comes to St. Stephen and the Incarnation every week. The needs of people in our community for nutritious food are constant.

This is the season of giving, a time when we give gifts to people we love. As you do that, can you also include Loaves and Fishes in your Christmas sharing and year-end giving? It would be a gift to Jesus himself.

We wish you God’s richest blessings as you celebrate the incarnation of Jesus.

With appreciation,

Claudia Pabo & Ed Grandi
Co-Chairs, Loaves and Fishes Management Board

P.S. Jesus was very clear in his teachings that we need to pay special attention to people who are hungry or poor. One way to do this is by supporting Loaves and Fishes. Please give now