Friday, September 24, 2010

The love is in the delivery

We have a weekly meal at our church.  You've read about it before, the Sunday lunch.  All people from the community are invited to come.  The demographic is made up of about 60% families and individuals below the poverty line, 30% homeless families and individuals, and 10% other/church volunteers.  The meal is an embodiment of the coming Kingdom of God.  It is a place where all are welcome, faults/sins/failings are overlooked, and a true selfless community is taught.

A few Sundays ago we had quite the adventure.  Two homeless gentlemen who have been coming to the lunch for quite sometime showed up inebriated.  Our environment has become a safe place for an increasing number of families to show up to eat, so the use, possession, or influence of substances is strictly prohibited.  Upon discovering these two guys state, I approached one of them and said, "You are welcome here, but your alcohol is not.  You have to leave."  It was the first time I have had to escort someone away from our lunch and church.  A few minutes later I returned to see our police officer escorting the other gentleman out as well.

I realized that love looks different in different situations.  Was I still showing love to those guys, having to escort them out of our church?  I think so.  Was I also showing love to the 148 other people who were trying to eat lunch?  I think so.

The love is in the delivery.  People can tell when the things we say come from a cold heart or when they are birthed out of compassion.  I made sure to tell them that I loved them as Christ does.  And now, almost more importantly, they will see love and redemption in future encounters I have with them.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

A Birthday Party

Roger fainted one Friday morning outside of a seven-eleven and that sent him to the hospital for a week.  Immediately, another one of Norman's homeless guys (who is the closest thing to a friend for Roger) came to the church to tell me what had happened.  Vickie (our senior adult minister who has known Roger for quite some time) and myself hurried up to the hospital.  We found a man who had been weathered by nearly a decade of homelessness.  

There were six of us in that room.  If you were to label us economically, we would be all over the scale.  But we came together as equals, as messed-up people who recognize that life is painful.

Roger got out of the hospital on his birthday.  So, of course, we threw him a party.  He turned 60 and his body has aged to the point that he would pass for a good twenty years more.The same six of us who gathered at the hospital were sitting around the table on the second floor of the FLC.  Who knows when the last time was that Roger sat down around a table with people that honestly cared about him, laughed, and ate ice cream.  The simplest, kind and gentle small talk is so good for people.

I believe Christ was there that day.  At first I felt him in Roger's loneliness, and then again in his laughter.

We even all signed a "thank you" card for the nurses that took care of Roger.  He said he wouldn't mind going back and letting them take care of him again.