Last week we had the “Birdman” in to help the dementia respite group make birdhouses. It was absolutely awesome. One thing that stuck with me is that the “Birdman” told us that his daily prayer was to be in the right place to be of service, and when it comes to rescuing birds in peril that frequently happens to him.
Yesterday I was in the right place to be useful. I was in the city for a meeting and stayed to get caught up on some of the administration for the respite program. Over lunch a friend mentioned that they were short of help that evening at the shelter supper service. “I’ll come,” was my immediate response. She was a little surprised, but gratefully accepted my help.
A few hours later we packed up the desserts made by the congregation and headed down to the shelter. First lunches were made for the children to take to school and for the parents to take to work.
Yes, this was a shelter for homeless families. Homeless because of unemployment or underemployment or because wages and hours were cut to the point that they could no longer afford to pay rent. Even now I am still angry at a corporate culture that puts profit ahead of people and seems to care little that employees cannot live on low wages and few hours and no benefits. I am saddened to think that low income housing is so rare and the demand for it too high. I am deeply concerned that there are buildings purchased and ready to be converted for homes for the homeless that continue to stand empty–why?–because we, the people who live in those neighborhoods have said, “We don’t want them here.”
And I am deeply concerned at all the hysteria around our government bringing in refugees, especially when that hysteria ends with help the homeless first. The homeless are being helped, governments and NGOs are working together to provide temporary homes, to feed those in need and to seek to provide housing they can afford….but we, who demand that something be done for the homeless stand in the way.
So please, look around you. See what is being done in your community. See where you can help be it for the sick, the homeless or the refugee and do your part. Let’s remember that this is what we are called to do. To help, the least of these. Let’s remember that this is who we are called to be, people who reach out to those in need with the offer of water, food, clothes, shelter….what ever is needed.
In Matthew 25 we read:
31-33 “When he finally arrives, blazing in beauty and all his angels with him, the Son of Man will take his place on his glorious throne. Then all the nations will be arranged before him and he will sort the people out, much as a shepherd sorts out sheep and goats, putting sheep to his right and goats to his left.
34-36 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Enter, you who are blessed by my Father! Take what’s coming to you in this kingdom. It’s been ready for you since the world’s foundation. And here’s why:
I was hungry and you fed me,
I was thirsty and you gave me a drink,
I was homeless and you gave me a room,
I was shivering and you gave me clothes,
I was sick and you stopped to visit,
I was in prison and you came to me.’
37-40 “Then those ‘sheep’ are going to say, ‘Master, what are you talking about? When did we ever see you hungry and feed you, thirsty and give you a drink? And when did we ever see you sick or in prison and come to you?’ Then the King will say, ‘I’m telling the solemn truth: Whenever you did one of these things to someone overlooked or ignored, that was me—you did it to me.’
Clearly the call to help all those who have a need is given to us. These days it seems as if the need is so great that we don’t know who to help, and we know that we can’t help them all. But we can help one person, or one cause at a time. If we each do our part we can transform and change our world for the better.MSG
I give the last word to the prophet Micah, who speaks so profoundly about the call to service that God places before all of us.
8 But he’s already made it plain how to live, what to do, what God is looking for in men and women.It’s quite simple: Do what is fair and just to your neighbor, be compassionate and loyal in your love,And don’t take yourself too seriously— take God seriously.MSG