Next week, we begin Lent…a time of reflection, contemplation – a time to look at our lives and see ways where we have fallen short of serving and following Jesus.
In the Presiding Bishop’s Lenten letter, she notes we are in a time of hunger. To be a follower of Jesus is to seek the healing of the whole world. In seeking to heal, we have to work in solidarity with the people of the world.
A part of my world resides on the edge of the Central West End in St. Louis…one block from Delmar – commonly known as the Delmar Divide – a geo-economical boundary between those who have much and those who have little.
Basically, I work in a world of hunger. I manage a food ministry. A good part of my work includes many mundane tasks such as sorting, stocking, ordering. But this ministry isn't just about giving food to the poor.
It’s about being on the lookout for angels. I am not talking about angels that save us from a moment of catastrophe.
I mean angels that help us see ourselves as we are…and as how we would like to be. Angels that make us wrestle with a certain thought and afterwards, we are renamed…different. Better. Closer to what Jesus wants us to be.
I have met several while working at Trinity.
John came to me a few weeks after I had begun work at Trinity. He introduced himself and then he said, “I haven’t always been homeless…I used to be somebody.”
Jane – a prostitute – a recovering drug addict – the last time I saw her, she asked if she could talk to me for a few minutes. She wanted to let me know that she was moving out of the area, trying to get away and change her life. She needed to ask me a question. What was it about me that made you love me?
A little lady who she looks old but probably isn’t much older than I am. She and her husband are struggling. Her cupboards were bare – she said she had nothing. After putting out a call for help (outside of the bounds of the pantry), there were enough basic groceries to see her through the last part of the year.
Sheila – she came into the pantry one day – angry, hot, ready to fight. I was not in the best of moods myself. The temperature in the parish hall was 80 degrees and there were at least 50 people – all wanting something and needing more. I was not at my best but I did get Shelley what she wanted. Then she told me, “I want one more thing.” Glaring at her, I asked, “What?” She smiled at me and said, “I want a hug.” All anger and frustration evaporated within me and I told her, “I have two for you.”
Some of the people that I have encountered have called me an angel.
I don’t think that is true. I think they have been the angels. They have helped me see Jesus up close and personal. I have hugged him. I have prayed with him. I have looked into his eyes.
Do I serve or follow Jesus? All I can say is that I try. One thing I have come to realize…wherever there are angels lurking, there are demons to overcome.
It is exhausting trying to see Jesus every day; being on the lookout for angels; watching out for the demons that reside within me.
I fail miserably… often.
But the world we live in is a world of hunger. We cannot ignore it and we cannot simply walk above it or around it.
We have to walk in its midst, just like Jesus did, every day.
What better way to prepare ourselves for the season of Lent?