Monday, October 07, 2013

At Liberty!

At Liberty Logo by paynehollow
At Liberty Logo, a photo by paynehollow on Flickr.

Supporters of the homeless at Jeff St Baptist Community at Liberty have begun a crowdsource funding effort to raise money for the At Liberty Hospitality Program. At Liberty is a day shelter open every morning, Monday through Friday. It provides a welcome and safe place where our homeless friends can get out of the weather, have a cup of coffee and a bit of breakfast, and receive medical assistance, social service assistance, clean up, make phone calls and generally get help and friendship.

We have been running At Liberty for ~30 years on a shoestring budget and, with funding getting tighter, we've decided to try to help keep it funded with this crowdsourcing campaign.

Check it out...

Please visit there, link to it, share it with friends, like it on Facebook, give it a pat on the head and send it on its happy way! And, if you like the idea of supporting At Liberty, consider becoming a supporter for this wonderful place of welcome and service for our homeless brothers and sisters.

And, if you're not in a place to support it financially, then please pray for the ministry, visit it (if you're in Louisville) and mention it to your friends. It really is an amazing and vitally needed ministry.


Tuesday, October 01, 2013

Shuffling in Like Elisha...

Homeless by paynehollow
Homeless, a photo by paynehollow on Flickr.

This last Sunday, our pastor talked in her sermon about our homeless ministry. For nearly 30 years, we've had a day shelter open, Monday through Friday, where our poor and homeless brothers and sisters can rest for a few hours, receive medical assistance, social assistance and where, most of all, they can be truly welcome. For many of our homeless friends, they tend to be pushed away, shunned and encouraged to move on... they are simply not welcome most places.

It may be a small thing, but we strive to at least provide for them this one small place of welcome. Thanks be to God for the faithfulness of our Minister with the Homeless and the volunteers who've kept this going. And I'm thankful for Cindy, our pastor, for preaching another great sermon.

Here's an excerpt from the sermon. She was preaching on the biblical text about the Shumannite woman who welcomed the prophet, Elisha, into her home...

...The Shunammite woman was able to recognize Elisha as a holy one, and to treat him accordingly. And I, of course - on this morning when we are celebrating our ministry of hospitality as a community - am thinking about how we recognize the holy ones in our midst, how we make room for them.

As I see the Shunammite woman in my mind’s eye, I can’t help but think of David and Tim, who come to this building while it’s still dark, to begin to cook, of Clifford, who comes in and rolls out the coffee and creamer and sugar, and makes sure that there’s plenty of it throughout the morning, of Diane, who opens the doors at 7:00 am, and invites in the holy ones. Now, they don’t look holy, mind you. They look like our society’s refuse, some of them, raggedy beards, disheveled clothing, shoes that don’t fit. No, they don’t look particularly holy. They look like they haven’t had a place to lay their head for the night, and many of them haven’t.

According to our records, about half of the men who come to our Hospitality Program “sleep out,” meaning that they lay their heads wherever they can, down by the river, under a bridge somewhere, in an abandoned building. No, they don’t look holy, and some of them don’t act so holy, either: “Sorry, Diane,” they say in between profanities.

But because Jesus was able to recognize the holy in his midst, and gave us some clues to look for—“whatever you do to the least of these, you do to me,” he said—we know, on our best days, anyway, deep in our gut of guts that these men and women are somehow holy, are somehow him. And so at 7:00 a.m., Diane opens our doors to the holy, welcomes them into this place that she, like the Shunammite woman has so carefully prepared, and they shuffle in like Elisha, deeply appreciative of the coffee and newspaper and telephone and space and place that has become like a second home.

How blessed we are, as a community, to have been able to provide this ministry, this great gift of hospitality for the last 30 years…Of course, hospitality doesn’t just happen on weekday mornings. I’m wondering, who are the other holy ones in our midst, the holy ones that might not look so holy or act so holy, but who, like our homeless friends, are in need of a tender touch, in need of a welcome word, in need of a conversation that feels like home? The Apostle Paul tells the church that we should be “given to hospitality.” Given to hospitality.

Who are the other Elishas in your world? May we recognize them, and make for them a special place.