November 10, 2019
Last week I preached a sermon that I wound up entitling, “Some Are Coming to Life.” The message for All Saints’ Sunday was that the saints of God are just folk like you and me. By the power of God’s Spirit, all of us have the potential to live holy lives, with souls and bodies consecrated to doing God’s will. It happens little by little. One step at a time we either move towards light and life, or languish in darkness and death. In fact, you can scan the faces of any crowd and conclude that some are coming to life, and some are not – at least not yet. What’s the difference between the two?
Just yesterday I witnessed a scene on the Broadway sidewalk out in front of the church. For the past month we have been troubled by a persistent gathering of professional street people who set up camp using our wrought iron fence to hang their clothes and leash their dog. They use the fence curbing to sit and set up their cardboard signs (all of which is trespassing). Nearby they park a half-dozen shopping carts overflowing with their belongings. It usually begins in the early afternoon, and by midday a number of rough customers have joined the group. Money changes hands. Neighbors have reported drug activity. We have tried to direct these folks to places where they can get the type of help that their cardboard signs say they desire, but for the time being moving toward the light is not what they are interested in doing. So we are working with the police who come and intervene in a way that doesn’t escalate the situation.
At the same time out on Broadway I saw one of the men who is participating in the “Ready, Willing & Able” program that is sponsored by the Doe Fund. The Doe Fund reaches out to homeless persons, most often men who have been released from prison without job skills or a place to live. They are taken in, given training, and eventually a job – the first being cleaning up a street in a particular neighborhood. You can identify the “Ready, Willing & Able” participants by their royal blue uniforms and wheeled trash barrels of the same color.
Yesterday, while the sinful throng out front was making its unholy noise, the man in royal blue was nearby trying to do his job. The campers were giving him a hard time and I could tell that he was frustrated. When I returned from running an errand I saw him sitting about a half block away, and I wanted to encourage him along the good path that he has chosen. I went over and introduced myself and thanked him for what he is doing. Keep up the good work. He seemed to brighten up, pleased that someone acknowledged him.
My point is this: if you see one of the men in blue – if you see anyone taking hard steps towards the light and even coming to life – share a word of encouragement. The road to sainthood is rough going, but it has to start somewhere.
See you in church.