Sunday, January 16, 2011

Justice Journey

Quote of the Day:  Psalm 40, verses 4-6, from The Message Bible
4-5 Blessed are you who give yourselves over to God,

turn your backs on the world's "sure thing,"
ignore what the world worships;
The world's a huge stockpile
of God-wonders and God-thoughts.
Nothing and no one
comes close to you!
I start talking about you, telling what I know,
and quickly run out of words.
Neither numbers nor words account for you.
6 Doing something for you, bringing something to you—
that's not what you're after.
Being religious, acting pious—
that's not what you're asking for.
You've opened my ears
so I can listen.

A listening ear and an open heart are the offerings you seek.

Have you ever wondered what it feels like to be homeless?  Last Wednesday, my son Zach and I, along with Pastor Erika and 17 seventh graders and another mom went on a Justice Journey in our community.  We walked the path that a family might take if they found themselves in a tough situation, probably due to lost jobs, loss of a home, and not having the resources or family to survive on their own. 

Our first stop was Bridges of Hope, an organization that links people to the services that they need in this community. Jana asked the kids what they might be feeling if they found themselves without work and no home or family to turn to?  What if you had kids to take care of?

Hands went up, "Desperate," someone said. "Sad, scared, lonely, hopeless," the kids understood.  They'd need to go some place that offered hope.  Jana said they are here to help people, to build a bridge between needs and services, a place where local church leaders can send the people who walk through their doors.  Someone is there to listen to their stories.

A social worker friend of mine said, "It's in telling our stories and sharing them with each other that we develop relationships."

Jana said "We're about spreading God's love."

We heard and felt that message again when we stopped at the Salvation Army to see their food shelf.

The need is great.

Our community has an Interfaith Hospitality Network.  Families stay overnight in one of the local churches.  Pastor Mark said those wonderful words again, "It's about showing God's love."  Area church members of many different faiths work together to provide a place for families to stay when they're homeless.  The temperature in Minnesota will be - O degrees Fahrenheit tonight. There are kids who have used these services who go to school with kids from this youth group, but they might never know it.  They also learned that our community has an organization that specifically helps teens who are homeless, usually from running away from a home where they don't feel safe.

My son woke up that morning and said, "So we're going to different places around town that help people, and we'll be helping people, too."  We did, by finding out what services are out there, becoming aware of the need for them, and doing a bit of work at one of them, like cleaning, sorting, moving things. It all makes a difference.

I've often marveled at people who can go off to another country to help people.  They need time, money, resources, immunizations, and connections.  What does it take to help the people on the streets of your own home town?

Our verse for the day:  Do justice, love kindness, walk humbly with our Lord.  from Micah 6:8

Journaling Prompt:   What services do you have in your community that help those in need?  What have you done, or would like to do to help?  Were you ever in need?

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