Monday, March 14, 2011

practical mercy

Yesterday's Sunday service was lovely, full of touching music and a thoughtful message.

It was also a special Sunday because it was the farewell for a family from the South that was returning home. Nowadays, families are returning South on a daily basis, but this family had lived here for more than 30 years. The husband has his projects, but this little ceremony was mostly in honour of the wife, who has volunteered tirelessly with hospitality, translation and all kinds of help. After other people gave their thanks and said their prayers for the departing family, they said their thanks back to the community. As the four of them stood there, tall and regal husband and wife, with sharp-looking preteen son and a baby granddaughter, we couldn't help but be inspired. I don't even know them and I feel like my heart is going with them, and I'm excited about the amazing things they will do back in their hometown.

The thing is, in the middle of their farewell, a man in his twenties or thirties wandered in off the street. The meeting area is airy and the doors are always open. Anyone on the street can see in, and anyone can come in. So this man wandered in to the front of the room, to the space in between the group and the family saying their goodbyes.

He held his hands up close to his face and wore the most pitiful expression you can imagine. It looked both well-trained and absolutely authentic. It looked like he had just seen a ghost and was crying out in pain. And it also told us that we wanted money - because he needed it.

Two men stood up and walked to the front. As the Southern couple continued their lovely words in front, the men gently tried to lead the man out of the building. He didn't move so they pushed and nudged and embraced him as they gently walked to the door. They left and talked with him on the street. I don't know what they said, but somehow I trust they said the right thing.

How do you come together, a congregation of people worshiping God, praying for friends and raising special collections for people in distress... and then dismiss a man who walks in and says he needs help?

I so admire those men for stepping up and talking to the intruder, but I don't wish it was me. And I really, really wonder what was said. How did they show God's love in a situation like that?

1 comment:

happygirl said...

This breaks my heart. Such a difficult situation. We are to help the poor and we want to honor the service in progress. I'm glad there are men (or women, in other countries) willing to step up to this situation. I pray the men were compassionate and were able to help the poor man. Now, the difficulty of the situation. And, this may be only me. The "poor" know where to go and how to get what they want. We can never know a man's heart. I just trust God. Thank you so much for writing. I learn so much from you.

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