“For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in” Matthew 25:35.
This past week, was an incredible whirlwind of blessings, a kind of week where you walk through life, sort of hovering over your body, trying to take it all in, trying to take in every bit of good that is around you, above your body to get a better viewpoint of the people you call friends, the work they are doing for the kingdom, the kind of week that I believe can be summed up with one question: “Do you like Elmo?”. Try to stay with me and I’ll give you my feeble attempt to bless God for the way He has moved through our community this week. Hands and Feet was blessed to serve at Church Under the Bridge Thursday evening for their dinner and worship service. A group of us went in with our desserts and salad and were set to serve. Our beautiful children even spent time weeding through the salad to find any brown pieces or break parts that were too big and of course in a way that only children could, they loved it.
When we walked into worship, they just started “Manifesto” by The City Harmonic http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o_6JQDsbtlM. This song is powerful on its own, but add a room full of people, it was estimated around 180 homeless, who cling so tightly to Jesus it is tangible, singing it at the top of their lungs, crying it out to God…you can’t imagine that feeling without being in that sanctuary. And we begin the journey, yet again, with God…blessing us who come to bless. A manifesto is defined as a public declaration of policy and aims. Thursday night these people were declaring to the Lord, with all everything that they had that they believed.
We were energized, our souls were filled and ready to serve. Our children waited patiently by the dessert table ready to share sweets and smiles with everyone who came. We filled trays, chatted and laughed with the guests. After a hundred or so people, I looked up and there he was, Raymundo…of all the people I could have seen that night, it was him…the man that I wrote about in my first post, I hadn’t seen him since and there he was…big toothless smile and he said “I remember you”…and in his eyes, once again, I saw Him…tears filled my eyes and I smiled and silently thanked God for being there. Our community came together, with other churches, friends from outside our circle and we served together. On the car ride home my oldest (6) said “Can we please go back to that place more times?”.
Our children GET IT.
Sunday Supper time arrived and this month Scott, Mike, Derrik, Todd, Jordan, Steve, Janet, Suzan, and giant crew of helpers, held a Fall Festival for everyone who attended. I walked through the halls of our church where people were eating, laughing, face painting, pumpkin decorating, giving hair cuts and all I could think was “THIS is the CHURCH”…THIS is the BRIDE…a community coming together, from all walks of life to break bread.
Before the supper, my big boy and I were asked to help drive a couple of children of a mother who wanted to attend with her family. We were asked by a beautiful woman, one who I am proud to call my friend, one who exudes empathy, who lives relationship, one who alongside her husband is changing lives. This beautiful momma that we are driving just pulled her family of six OUT of homelessness and they are getting back on their feet. As we drove to pickup my son and I discussed a very important matter: Elmo boots. You see these boots were his favorite, at the age of 2 he almost wore nothing else, when he outgrew them it was his little brother’s turn. These were SPECIAL boots. I explained that if he found someone he felt was special, that he wanted to gift his boots to tonight, it would be very sweet. He said “How old will that boy need to be, momma?” I said about 2 years old. When we arrived to help with pickup, a little boy named Ryan got into our car, and the little angel was TERRIFIED. “Your momma is going to be in the car right in front of us baby” I pleaded, “don’t be afraid”. He was afraid, he held his lips together tightly and giant tears welled up in his beautiful brown eyes. My boy said “Hi what’s your name?” Ryan shook his head no. “How old are you?” Ryan shook his head no. “Do you want to go to a party?” Ryan shook his head no. More tears rolling. “Do you like Elmo?”…
The wisdom of a child. The Elmo boots were the very last thing in my mind while I was trying to get this terrified little boy reconnected with his momma as quickly as possible. Suddenly I hear “YES I LOVE ELMO!” and it’s Ryan, and I see a giant smile in my rearview mirror! And next to that smile, I see the face of my son. I have NEVER been more proud to be his momma than that moment. A question, so simple, broke the barrier. Walls fell down. And then he asked again, “How old are you?” “2” Ryan said. “Momma! He’s 2! we can give HIM my BOOTS!”.
In one small conversation, my six-year-old child managed to cut right to the point. He found common ground, he saw a child hurting and he found something to make him smile…not complicated, not drawn out, not patronizing. He asked one question that he would ask a friend and he built a relationship.
In one weekend life lessons were taught by the least of these. I dare say the greatest lessons in LIFE were taught by children and the poor. Cling to God when there is nothing else to hold on to…Cling to God when there is everything else to hold on to. In your greatest feats and your saddest defeats. Worship Him with YOUR LIFE. I watched people, who by the world’s standards, have NOTHING, singing with THEIR LIFE “We are free He died and lives again!”.
Have empathy and build relationship. Find someone else’s Elmo. Find your common ground. Be present with them and don’t “help”, build. I learned this lesson from a six-year-old boy.
And when you think that you don’t have anything to give…give EVERYTHING-like a beautiful momma and dear friend of mine who has four young children and somehow managed to find the time to clothe a man, feed him, give him a place to sleep and help him on the road to sustainable employment…oh and did I mention she has 4 kids!!
We can do this together. We can build bridges and bridge gaps and relationships with each other and change the world together, no matter where we are or how much is on our plate, because there are people whose plates are empty and we have to start moving.
“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me” Matthew 25:40