Connecting with Community

Saturday, January 26, 2013


What an extraordinarily warm and beautifully day. The bright warm sun smiles on me as I walk towards the building. I glance towards the park and I notice many busy park benches. The crowded picnic tables are full of laughter. They sit as family around the dinner table, sharing their goods. I am content as there is finally some relief for my park people. At least for today, they won't have to endure a harsh cold winter day. It is 10:00 and I sit gazing out the window in hopes that this moment and this warmth wouldn't find an end. My silence is interrupted by a persistent buzzard. I try to return to my day dreaming but I continue to hear it. It is my phone that is buzzing.

On my way to work today I notice a flashing sign calling to me and I usually resist but today would be different. I stop and without hesitation I buy a donut. Please no judgment, after all how long has it been since I indulged. My first bite and I am reminded of the four miles it will take to run it off.

The buzzard interrupts my thoughts again and finally I answer. Ms. Pam informs me of a guest that awaits in the lobby. I walk out the door to greet my surprise visitor, we will call her Sara. I say "hello" as I walk towards Sara. She bows here head and begins to cry. Quickly she apologizes for having need again. I wrap my arms around her and tell her "everything will be okay". We walk towards my office and as we enter she reaches for a vacant seat. She watches as I pull my chair around from behind my desk. I want to be close enough to hug her while she weeps.  She begins with "I'm sorry, I'm homeless again". With shame I will have you know that my first thought is " really...again". She speaks again, "I'm sorry I let you down". I ask a few more questions and my stomach turns with great pain. I am judging if only in my mind. With a trembling voice she says, "my 15 year old is so tore up, he is so embarrassed about having to stay at the shelter".  Again my thoughts bring judgment, "how could you be homeless again". Frustration and anger one solid emotion. I am sure she read my face and heard these words even though I did not speak them out loud, "why are these two babies suffering again?" At this point I am certain she feels my judgment. I just can't imagine my 16 year old having to go through this. This 15 year old boy deserves a place to lay his head and a place he can call home.

Two years ago Sara and her children moved in with the children's grandmother. Sara gave up her job after 11 years of employment. Sara decided she wanted to be her ill mothers full time care giver. They gave up their home and their security to be able to care for a loved one in need. Rapidly this arrangement turned into a night mare. The grandmother began abusing the children and they were forced to leave this unbearable situation. As they fled the night mare followed and it wasn't long before they were homeless.  Sara's only desire at this point was shelter with safety. Because of Sara's  strength and diligence she succeeded in finding not only a home but also employment. The community bathed her with encouragement and love . She has been able to successfully maintain her household for the past two years and within these two years she has called and reported much success.
Today Sara tells me that her ex husband has stopped paying child support and that has changed everything. So much so that a few days before Christmas she lost her home. She speaks with such grief, "my children and I spent Christmas in a shelter". Again she apologizes for being in need. Again I get up and hold her, I remind her that all will be well. My judgment is subsiding.

I am torn up inside for having judged her because she was in need, again. You may call my actions horrible and I will agree. But if we are honest we can all say judgment is in us somewhere. If we are not careful it sprouts up when we least expect it. I know if anyone should know better it is me.  Within moments conviction takes over. Like in a movie I am reminded of all my failures.  I know this is a lesson and I desperately seek to find the wisdom in it. What does it take and where is the line where we say "that's it I will not help that person anymore". When is it appropriate to give up on people? Like a thick fog words consume me. These words are so loud it is like they are being spoken to me. Lamentations 3:22-23 Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.
I was invited by Westminster Presbyterian Church to teach a class on wednesday nights. I accepted and decided to begin in Isaiah 61 The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners,". Last week I spoke on, yes you guessed it, Judgment. I expressed that we are all fearfully and wonderfully made regardless of race, gender or socio economic status. Psalm 139:14 I praise you because I am, fearfully and wonderfully made,. Today in class I felt led to explain my day. I encourage this group in a more powerful way to do away with judgment. I explain the consequences of judgment because I have experienced them first hand today. I am thankful to report that even though judgment showed up today it did not succeed. Sara was in a home before my class started this evening. Her son now has a place he can call home. If I am certain of one thing toda, it is that God loves me regardless of my flaws. I am also certain that He loves Sara just the same regardless of her flaws or her beliefs.

Acts 10:34 God is no respecter of persons:


 Isaiah 44:24 Thus saith the Lord, thy redeemer, and he that formed thee from the womb, I am the Lord that maketh all things; that stretcheth forth the heavens alone; that spreadeth aboard the earth by myself; Epherians2:10  For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future

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