Saturday, August 6, 2016

Homelessness: What would Jesus do?


Recently, I made a  trip to North Carolina. Now, I can barely tolerate first class, but we’ve now gone way beyond that.  I understood the taking your shoes off routine to be about security. But did you know that for some extra dollars ,you can  keep your shoes on? Uh,….security? And now with American Airlines, anything but center seats are “premium”? For a few dollars more?  And Southwest Airlines…which used to be first come, first served based upon your check in time. B now you  can buy a higher position. Thank god, the Subway is still democratic. Can you imagine a first class subway?

You want to talk about lines? Lines? Waiting in line for Shakespeare in the park is part of quintessential New York City summer experience. BUT if you become a supporter, you can pass the summer Shakespeare line altogether. Well, maybe that is arguably fair…but over half the ‘’Free ‘seats are reserved for corporate donors..

What about amusement parks?  The Disney worlds? No democracy. Money takes you to the front of the line…(But not in Brooklyn, NOT the Cyclone…pure democracy…only the take a  2nd ride for $5offer after you’ve finished…no complaint there..

What if in baseball you could buy an extra ball as  a pitcher or an  extra strike as a batter…an already seemingly interminable game would never end….

What we’re talking about here is COMMODIFICATION…the idea that everything, everybody,has a price….that like with one of our candidates, there is always a deal to
 be made…

Even health is a commodity to be bought and sold. In our society teeth are a class issue…the rich get teeth, the rest of us dentures…Luke reminds us that death is still the ultimate democratic experience. We are called to be rich toward God…now what does that mean?

In Colossians 3:11 we read again, that there is   Neither Jew nor Greek….in an election year where one candidate believes in separation, we are called to a different way of being…Christianity is  not a belief but a way of life…

There has been an increasingly loud conversation concerning homeless in this neighborhood…on our steps…underneath the conversation is a desire not to have to see or be near people who are not like us…
In talking about the homeless issue, there are several rights:
1.     The right to enjoy your home and neighborhood
2.     The right of the church to preserve it’s beauty and to be respected
            Sometimes these slide over we just don’t want to see them…
And there I’m troubled…

As a follower of Jesus, I must always ask the question, what would Jesus do?

I was touched by the quality of conversation at this point. John will always help homeless people. Understands that there but for the grace of God go I quality of the reality. But he draws the line at inviting people into his home. I know people who  have done that and it has never worked out well. Except for maybe Rudy. Leila faces this issue with me every day. But I’m especially gratified when Marsha speaks of her displeasure with the neighborhood. The sense of privilege that wants to hide our children …and more ourselves from unpleasant realities…she’d like to have a happy hour and invite our neighbors to discuss the issue..I have felt marginalized and ostracized in this discussion so Marsha’s support is much appreciated…)

We say out prayers. Sing our hymns. Our benedictions. Our Amens. And head back to the streets. And our homes.

Meanwhile the Restoration Ministries LGBTQ African-American pentecostal church is finishing it’s last Sunday in our sanctuary. They are moving to the Village and Judson.  The documentary film crew is wrapping up its last shooting.

thank you, Leila


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