“If a brother or sister is naked and lacks daily food, and one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace; keep warm and eat your fill,’ and yet you do not supply their bodily needs, what is the good of that? So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead.”
This last week, I attended the planning breakfast for our church’s annual “Marcella’s Salad Fling” put on by the Presbyterian Women. (The Salad Fling is next Wednesday, May 14, from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. at the First Presbyterian Church in Heber Springs.)
At the planning breakfast, Dorothy Roland served her cheese grits. I had a big helping of them because they are absolutely delicious.
However, being a Texas boy, I did not grow up appreciating the Southern delicacy of grits. I probably had them a time or two, but they were most likely of the plain variety. If I did have them, I must have not liked them because I promptly forgot about them.
The first memory I have of grits is from when I was traveling through Arkansas as a college student. I had a summer job lined up in Michigan, and I had to go through Little Rock to get there. I believe it was probably Benton where I stopped for breakfast.
When the waitress brought my plate, on it was this mealy looking white stuff. I remember that I did not think the mass of stuff looked very appetizing. I tasted it, and I was right. It was not appetizing.
On the return trip from Michigan back to Texas, I once again made my way through the Little Rock area and stopped for breakfast. Although it was a different restaurant, there was the same mass on white stuff on my plate.
Years later, I found myself moving to Arkansas to begin a chaplain program at a hospital. My first morning here, I went to a diner and ordered breakfast. Sure enough, there was that white stuff on my plate.
When the waitress came by to check my coffee, I asked her, “What is this stuff?” as I pointed to the mealy blob.
She answered, “Why those are grits!”
“Grits, huh?” I said. “But, I didn’t order them.”
“Well, honey,” she drawled. “Breakfast comes with grits!”
A few weeks later, I was invited to preach at a minister’s conference. I was to speak on helping people in times of need. I got to thinking about it. The phrase, “breakfast comes with grits,” kept popping into my head.
I chose as the biblical text for my sermon James 12: 15-17, which reads, “If a brother or sister is naked and lacks daily food, and one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace; keep warm and eat your fill,’ and yet you do not supply their bodily needs, what is the good of that? So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead.”
As I read that passage, I thought, “Faith comes with grits.” And that became the title for my first sermon in Arkansas. You see, if we say we have faith, then as we express our faith, helping others in times of need goes along with it. It just does. Otherwise, as James points out, “What is the good of that?”
We have an opportunity to help others this weekend. Beginning tonight, Heber Theatre presents the play “Faith County” to raise money for Breakin’ Bread soup kitchen here in Heber Springs. The play will run from tonight through Monday. Each performance begins at 7:00 p.m. The performances will be at The Pavilion in the Pines, 21 Park Road (next to St. Albert’s Catholic Church). Admission is by donations to help Breakin’ Bread feed people who are in need of a good free meal.
Come out to see the play, and let’s all put some grits with our faith.
(The Rev. Al Henager is pastor of First Presbyterian Church of Heber Springs, Arkansas. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.)