Please Know...

As I come to know the men and women of Kensington, specifically the homeless and addicted, their stories become increasingly sensitive and personal. Their collective story is what I am trying to share with you as my way of breaking the stereotypical beliefs that exist in regard to these fine people. Names are rarely their actual names and wherever I can do so, I might use the opposite pronoun (his/her, etc.) just to help increase their privacy.

Monday, April 24, 2017

All Human Interaction In Life Is A Social Dance

Someone I care about recently commented that they are sick of being taken advantage of by their friends and were thinking of ending several of those relationships.

My friend's comment got me thinking of something I heard a few years ago:

All Human Interaction In Life Is A Social Dance

Without realizing it, my friend who made the comment, really identified the dance, a problem in the dance with several friends and one way to end those dances.

When any combination of two people begin interacting, they begin a social "dance."  They are getting to know each other and are sharing bits of themselves with the other.  This sharing may include interests, likes/dislikes and more.  As this interaction continues, a pattern often emerges.  
  • They are getting to know each other equally or one is sharing more than the other.
  • They are trying to spend time together equally or one is trying noticeably more.
  • They are spending approximately the same amount of money on each other or one is spending significantly more.
You get the idea...

When any relationship that is intended to be an equal friendship becomes one sided in these or other ways, the dance is out of balance.  What should be done in such a situation?  Should the dancer who notices the imbalance just walk away from the dance or should they point out the issue causing the imbalance with the hope of correcting the issue and continuing the dance?  

The answer to that is fairly simple:  How much do you care about your dance partner?

If you do care about your dance partner, tell them how when they do or don't do or say or don't say such-and-such, they are stepping on your toes in this dance and it hurts.  It could be that they don't notice what their feet are doing and just need to be told.

Maybe you've already tried that and your feet are still getting squashed.  Taking a break in the social dance and explaining to your dance partner why you're taking a break may be all you need to do to allow your feet to heal.  This may also give time for your dance partner to get social interaction dancing lessons.  And speaking of dancing lessons, it could be that taking lessons together will solve the entire situation.  (Allow me to step out of this analogy for a moment to make a point very clear.  These "dance lessons" may be individual, group or marriage counseling, depending on your dance environment.)  By doing this, you've started your dance break or lessons on friendly terms and will probably be able to resume dancing some time in the near future.  

If you do resume dancing and your feet are no longer getting squashed, you've saved your life of dancing with your partner.  If your feet are still getting squashed, it may very well be time for more combined dance lessons or to stop dancing with that dance partner, let your feet heal and find a new dance partner.

If you really don't care about your dance partner or really don't have an already established dance relationship with them, you might want to explain to them why you're stopping your dance or you might want to quietly stop dancing and just leave the party without saying anything.  Explaining may help them dance better with their next dance partner but not be wise.  

Happy Dancing!

Friday, April 21, 2017

I would Like you to Meet David and Autumn...

I would like you to meet David and Autumn.  They are the hardest working married couple I’ve ever met.  They live in Philadelphia.  They work from morning to night and seem to never take a break.  They eat on the run almost always.  They are out there earning money and spending it only on what’s most important to them as a couple.  They coordinate their efforts and use the special talents and gifts that each one possesses to create a synchronized married, husband and wife duo.  They are a marvel to watch.

Filling in the Blanks:

I’d like you to meet David and Autumn.  They are the hardest working homeless, heroin addicted couple I’ve ever met.  They live on the streets of Philadelphia between the Arby’s on Aramingo Avenue and TheTracks of Kensington.  They work from morning to night carrying a small sign at intersections that says “Hungry” and they never seem to take a break even if someone gives them a pizza or an Arby’s dinner.  They eat on the run between red lights when people with cars are put in that awkward situation of having to be parked while they walk past.  They are out there earning money and spending it only on what’s most important to them as a couple – their next hit of heroin.  They coordinate their efforts and use the special talents and gifts that each one possesses.  Her gift is her slender stand up straight, long brown hair appearance.  (Please ignore the obvious layer of dirt on her skin and multilayered clothes.  And PLEASE ignore the massive mats in her long brown hair.  And if you actually talk to Autumn, please ignore the appreciative {because someone actually dared to talk to her} and physically weak tone of her voice.)  David’s talent and gift is to stand in traffic in the less traveled part of the intersection.  He’s much more reserved in speaking with people. He’s responsible for moving their cardboard and one blanket bedding from its previous location to its new location behind the large bushes right next to the speaker of the drive through at the Arby’s on Aramingo.  Yes…  They are a marvel to watch.

I would like you to meet David and Autumn:






Thursday, April 20, 2017

To Choose or Not To Choose

To Choose or Not To Choose

In recent weeks, I have been in a Bible study with a group of men at Urban Hope Church.  We have been studying the book of Ephesians.  I’ve read this many times over the years.  Each time I do, I discover something new.  This time through, I’m very aware or the idea of choosing.  So, with that in mind, I’m writing this.  What follows below is the text of the first chapter of Ephesians as found in the New Living Translation of the Bible.  After that, I’m breaking down this chapter to share my thoughts.

EPHESIANS 1

Greetings from Paul
1This letter is from Paul, chosen by the will of God to be an apostle of Christ Jesus. I am writing to God’s holy people in Ephesus,* who are faithful followers of Christ Jesus. 2May God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ give you grace and peace.

Spiritual Blessings
3All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ. 4Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes. 5God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure. 6So we praise God for the glorious grace he has poured out on us who belong to his dear Son.* 7He is so rich in kindness and grace that he purchased our freedom with the blood of his Son and forgave our sins. 8He has showered his kindness on us, along with all wisdom and understanding. 9God has now revealed to us his mysterious plan regarding Christ, a plan to fulfill his own good pleasure. 10And this is the plan: At the right time he will bring everything together under the authority of Christ— everything in heaven and on earth. 

11Furthermore, because we are united with Christ, we have received an inheritance from God,* for he chose us in advance, and he makes everything work out according to his plan. 12God’s purpose was that we Jews who were the first to trust in Christ would bring praise and glory to God. 13And now you Gentiles have also heard the truth, the Good News that God saves you. And when you believed in Christ, he identified you as his own* by giving you the Holy Spirit, whom he promised long ago. 14The Spirit is God’s guarantee that he will give us the inheritance he promised and that he has purchased us to be his own people. He did this so we would praise and glorify him.

Paul’s Prayer for Spiritual Wisdom
15Ever since I first heard of your strong faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for God’s people everywhere,* 16I have not stopped thanking God for you. I pray for you constantly, 17asking God, the glorious Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, to give you spiritual wisdom* and insight so that you might grow in your knowledge of God. 18I pray that your hearts will be flooded with light so that you can understand the confident hope he has given to those he called— his holy people who are his rich and glorious inheritance.* 19I also pray that you will understand the incredible greatness of God’s power for us who believe him. This is the same mighty power 20that raised Christ from the dead and seated him in the place of honor at God’s right hand in the heavenly realms. 21Now he is far above any ruler or authority or power or leader or anything else— not only in this world but also in the world to come. 22God has put all things under the authority of Christ and has made him head over all things for the benefit of the church. 23And the church is his body; it is made full and complete by Christ, who fills all things everywhere with himself.

Arterburn, Stephen; Stoop, David. The Life Recovery Bible NLT (LRB: Full Size) (Kindle Locations 68364-68405). Tyndale House Publishers. Kindle Edition.

EPHESIANS 1
Greetings from Paul
1This letter is from Paul, chosen by the will of God to be an apostle of Christ Jesus. I am writing to God’s holy people in Ephesus,* who are faithful followers of Christ Jesus. 2May God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ give you grace and peace.

This idea of choosing or being chosen does not start with me.  Paul points out that God chose him to be an apostle of Jesus Christ. (Quick note: Along the way, I’m adding end notes to provide definitions of some words that might not be familiar to you.)

God chose Paul.  Now it’s our turn to choose.  Look at the phrase above: “…who are faithful followers of Christ Jesus.”  Before we can be a faithful[i] follower of Christ Jesus we must choose to follow.  Virtually every action we take in life has choosing to do that action just before the action itself.  Choosing to follow Jesus involves the same process.  Choosing (or not choosing) becomes the pattern of Ephesians[ii] as we will now see.  The indented portions are my commentary or insertion of words to make my point.

Spiritual Blessings
3All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ.

3All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who chose to bless us with every spiritual blessing[iii] in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ.

4Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes.

4Even before he made the world, God chose to love us and chose us in Christ to be holy[iv] and without fault in his eyes.

5God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure.

5God chose to decide in advance to adopt[v] us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure.

6So we praise God for the glorious grace he has poured out on us who belong to his dear Son.*

6So we choose to praise God for the glorious grace[vi] he has poured out on us who belong to his dear Son.*

7He is so rich in kindness and grace that he purchased our freedom with the blood of his Son and forgave our sins.

7He is so rich in kindness and grace that he chose to purchase our freedom with the blood of his Son and forgave our sins.

8He has showered his kindness on us, along with all wisdom and understanding.

8He has chosen to shower his kindness on us, along with all wisdom and understanding.

9God has now revealed to us his mysterious plan regarding Christ, a plan to fulfill his own good pleasure.

9God has now chosen to reveal to us his mysterious plan regarding Christ, a plan to fulfill his own good pleasure.

10And this is the plan: At the right time he will bring everything together under the authority of Christ— everything in heaven and on earth.

10And this is the plan: At the right time he will choose to bring everything together under the authority of Christ— everything in heaven and on earth.

11Furthermore, because we are united with Christ, we have received an inheritance from God,* for he chose us in advance, and he makes everything work out according to his plan.

11Furthermore, because we have chosen to be united with Christ, we have received an inheritance from God,* for he chose us in advance, and he makes everything work out according to his plan.

12God’s purpose was that we Jews who were the first to trust in Christ would bring praise and glory to God. 13And now you Gentiles have also heard the truth, the Good News that God saves you. And when you believed in Christ, he identified you as his own* by giving you the Holy Spirit, whom he promised long ago.

12God’s purpose was that we Jews who were the first to choose to trust in Christ would bring praise and glory to God. 13And now you Gentiles have also heard the truth, the Good News that God saves you. And when you chose to believe in Christ, he chose to identify you as his own* by giving you the Holy Spirit[vii], whom he promised long ago.

14The Spirit is God’s guarantee that he will give us the inheritance he promised and that he has purchased us to be his own people. He did this so we would praise and glorify him.

Paul’s Prayer for Spiritual Wisdom
15Ever since I first heard of your strong faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for God’s people everywhere,* 16I have not stopped thanking God for you. I pray for you constantly, 17asking God, the glorious Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, to give you spiritual wisdom* and insight so that you might grow in your knowledge of God.

15Ever since I first heard of your chosen strong faith in the Lord Jesus and your chosen love for God’s people everywhere,* 16I have not stopped thanking God for you. I pray for you constantly, 17asking God, the glorious Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, to give you spiritual wisdom* and insight so that you might grow in your knowledge of God.

18I pray that your hearts will be flooded with light so that you can understand the confident hope he has given to those he called— his holy people who are his rich and glorious inheritance.*

18I pray that you will choose to allow your hearts will be flooded with light so that you can understand the confident hope he has given to those he chose to call— his holy people who are his rich and glorious inheritance.*

19I also pray that you will understand the incredible greatness of God’s power for us who believe him. This is the same mighty power 20that raised Christ from the dead and seated him in the place of honor at God’s right hand in the heavenly realms.

19I also pray that you choose to seek to understand the incredible greatness of God’s power for us who choose to believe him. This is the same mighty power 20that raised Christ from the dead and seated him in the place of honor at God’s right hand in the heavenly realms.

21Now he is far above any ruler or authority or power or leader or anything else— not only in this world but also in the world to come. 22God has put all things under the authority of Christ and has made him head over all things for the benefit of the church. 23And the church is his body; it is made full and complete by Christ, who fills all things everywhere with himself.

Arterburn, Stephen; Stoop, David. The Life Recovery Bible NLT (LRB: Full Size) (Kindle Locations 68364-68405). Tyndale House Publishers. Kindle Edition.

Take a moment now to go back to the top and read this chapter with a new understanding that it is your choice to choose or not to choose to follow Jesus Christ.

To be continued…



[i] consistently trustworthy and loyal, especially to a person, promise, or duty
[ii] a book of the Bible, originally a letter to the church in Ephesus and traditionally attributed to St. Paul.
[iii] help from God
[iv] devoted to the service of God
[v] to raise a child of other biological parents as if it were your own
[vi] the infinite love, mercy, favor, and goodwill shown to humankind by God AND the condition of being free of sin, e.g. through repentance to God
[vii] the third person of the Trinity, understood as the spiritual force of God

Thursday, April 13, 2017

My Clearest Vision of the "Last Supper"

John 13New Living Translation (NLT)
Jesus Washes His Disciples’ Feet
13 Before the Passover celebration, Jesus knew that his hour had come to leave this world and return to his Father. He had loved his disciples during his ministry on earth, and now he loved them to the very end.[a]It was time for supper, and the devil had already prompted Judas,[b] son of Simon Iscariot, to betray Jesus. Jesus knew that the Father had given him authority over everything and that he had come from God and would return to God. So he got up from the table, took off his robe, wrapped a towel around his waist, and poured water into a basin. Then he began to wash the disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel he had around him.
When Jesus came to Simon Peter, Peter said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?”
Jesus replied, “You don’t understand now what I am doing, but someday you will.”
“No,” Peter protested, “you will never ever wash my feet!”
Jesus replied, “Unless I wash you, you won’t belong to me.”
Simon Peter exclaimed, “Then wash my hands and head as well, Lord, not just my feet!”
10 Jesus replied, “A person who has bathed all over does not need to wash, except for the feet,[c] to be entirely clean. And you disciples are clean, but not all of you.” 11 For Jesus knew who would betray him. That is what he meant when he said, “Not all of you are clean.”
12 After washing their feet, he put on his robe again and sat down and asked, “Do you understand what I was doing? 13 You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and you are right, because that’s what I am. 14 And since I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash each other’s feet. 15 I have given you an example to follow. Do as I have done to you.16 I tell you the truth, slaves are not greater than their master. Nor is the messenger more important than the one who sends the message. 17 Now that you know these things, God will bless you for doing them.
**********************

What does a group of 13 men (Jesus and His 12 disciples) in the upper room look like?  Well, the picture above provides a clue.  But allow me to stop for a moment and explain to you that I'm sitting at home on what the church often refers to as "Maundy Thursday[i]."  This is the night that the church recognizes as the moment when Jesus did what you just read from The Gospel[ii] of John.  I was hoping to be with this group of men and their families but a major computer issue has had me redoing my taxes all day two days before the due date.
Although two are missing from the picture – me taking the picture and one who simply missed the moment – this is a gathering of 13 men this past Tuesday night at Urban Hope on the upper deck of a building redeemed from the use of local drug dealers and high ranking drug distributers (one of whom is in this picture).  We gathered in this upper room, the thirteen of us numerically equal to the original night with Jesus.  We read the above Bible passage, washed each other’s feet as did Jesus, had dinner together, as did Jesus, had communion together, as did Jesus and prayed together as did Jesus. 
Warning – Warning – The following is a run on sentence:  I have never grasped the sense of that original “Last Supper[iii]” as I did this night in the heart of the “Badlands”, (the unfortunate and inaccurate name given to this section of Philadelphia) – otherwise known as the City of Brotherly Love - casually led by the national director of CE National (who lives in a two room apartment on A Street), the parent ministry of Urban Hope, when thirteen of us experienced God like most never do.  Allow me to anonymously introduce you to this group of redeemed[iv] and delivered[v] men of God…
One is the father of the serial hugger.  He met nine bullets as no one should in his pre-Jesus days and now lovingly searches for and prays with homeless people when we go out to serve them.  Then there is a dad and local hospital chaplain/army reserve chaplain who provides Biblical council to all who ask.  Near him is a former high ranking drug distributer who used this same building (pre Jesus) as his building for housing his drugs, weapons and porn.  He invited Jesus into his life, rehabbed the building and now preaches Jesus on some Sundays.  Near him is the national director of CE National who has the time to call me and personally chat about stuff in my life.  Next to him is his relative who lives in Philadelphia.  Next to him is a man who pretends to be terrible at leading games for Kingdom Kids on Sunday afternoons.  Next to him is a man who I don’t know well but I’m guessing he’s awesome.  Next to him is a veteran of the Badland streets and my personal advisor if he feels I should duck as fast as possible.  The next man is our local expert on loving Jesus AND being Jewish, mostly because he does and is.  Then there is a man who shows enormous courage as he learns to read and prepares for marriage at the same time.  Finally, there is a soft spoken man whose peaceful nature exemplifies the peace of Jesus. 
Among all the somewhat expected lessons to be learned from such a night, I noticed this:  The “Last Supper” that original “Last Supper” night was in Jerusalem, a city.  As Jesus did His thing during this sacred[vi] night, there were totally unrelated sounds just outside that room.  These sounds of common everyday life had no choice but to infiltrate an outrageously sacred moment of Jesus washing the feet of his disciples and leading the first “communion service.”  There were kids and adults just outside the window down on the street making all kinds of unrelated sounds.  They were talking and shouting this or that and not all of it was polite.  I’m guessing with a degree of understanding that I never had until 48 hours ago that there must have been a few first century equivalent versions of the “f word” and more floating into that sacred room that night even in the exact moment that Jesus was saying “This is my Body… Take and Eat…  This is My Blood…  Drink and Remember…” 
Imagine that!  God’s Words Spoken by God Incarnate[vii] sharing ear space with the common and occasionally vulgar words of local everyday life…  As it was meant to be…

To be continued….





[i] a Christian holy day marking the Last Supper.
[ii] a book of the Bible belonging to a set of four, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, that tell the story of the life of Jesus Christ
[iii] the last meal that Jesus Christ ate with his disciples before his crucifixion, commemorated by Christians in the Communion ceremony
[iv] to pay for the sins of humanity with death on the Cross
[v] transitive verb to free or save somebody from captivity, hardship, or evil
[vi] worthy of or regarded with religious veneration, worship, and respect
[vii] having a bodily form, especially a human form

Sunday, April 9, 2017

This is a Day I won't soon forget!  This is a sequel to last night's blog I guess.  For this to make sense, you might need to read that.

I was up at the Wawa Store on Aramingo Ave by about 9:15am.  There was no sign of Martha there or in the few block area that I traveled this morning.  As I walked toward the Wawa door, I saw a man about 25 or 30 sitting on the ground asking for change.  Homeless addicts are everywhere in this area.  
People walked around him as they headed toward the Wawa double doors and said "Thank you to total strangers as each holds the door for the next person coming in or out.  (Wait... Stop... This blog is interrupted to explain the phenomenon of the convenience store we call Wawa.  It's an odd Lenape Indian word that means "Wild Goose." The Wawa Store was started by a man named Graham Wood.  He and his wife Emily attended my childhood church were my dad was the rector (Episcopal priest in charge of a church).  The Wawa Corporation has become a multi-billion dollar corporation over the years with an almost cult like following.  Google it some time if you want to learn more...  I've got to get back to the homeless man.

People walked around him as if he didn't exist and I'm willing to bet that most wish he didn't.  Some of the Wawa patrons were on their way to or had just come from church on this Palm Sunday when we celebrate the entry of Jesus into Jerusalem five days before He was tortured and crucified for the sake of church goers and addicts alike.  It's a sacred day to us Christians so I can certainly understand why a homeless addict could be a distraction to such a day.  (NOT!!!)

I noticed his expression as each request for loose change was met with total avoidance.  When I walked toward the door, he looked toward me and smiled a bit as he looked at my Urban Hope shirt.  Instead of asking for change, he said Hi and I said Hi.  I went into the store, bought some gum and walked out.  In my car was a stash of granola bars and a left over paper from last night's Homeless Ministry outing that explained the ministries at Urban Hope.  I took both to him and was sure to point out the Recovery Meeting led by my friend Rick Cartagena.  He freely acknowledged his addiction and thanked me for the granola bar and the paper.  His name is Danny.

As for the man and woman traveling together who I mentioned yesterday, I found them again today and had a brief conversation with Autumn.  David was working the intersection at the time.  She's from Nevada and California and is convinced that no family is looking for her.  She's filthy beyond understanding and her long brown hair is severely matted.  I'm guessing that they are both in their mid thirties.

I would say more but I'm tired.....

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Kittens in Kensington

This was a night I won't soon forget.  I drove 45 minutes from my rental home with its beautiful pond in the front yard in the suburbs of Philadelphia to Urban Hope, a church that is, and I mean this as literally as reality will allow, the hand and voice of God Almighty in Kensington ( also known as the "Badlands") section of Philadelphia.

My first stop was at a Wawa Store to pick up a Chef Salad, two packages of french dressing and two packages of croutons.  I'm weird.  I know this.  I like chocolate milk with my chef salad and they didn't have any so I settled for 2% reduced fat white milk.  I tell you this because I had the option of choosing the salad, it's double portion of dressing and my selection of beverage.

The scared little kitten of a young lady who I'd seen come out of the Wawa seconds earlier did not seem to have these options.  She scampered to the back corner of the sidewalk where she sat down and ate a large bag of Herr's regular chips and a fountain soda as what seemed to be her first dinner in some time.  I watched her consume her dinner, doing all she could to get every last crumb out of the widely opened bag.  I watched her as I frustratingly tried to get my chef salad with it's two dressings and two packages of croutons to stop falling off the passenger seat of my car.

Should a grown - obviously older - man approach this younger scared kitten of a young lady?  It struck me that if she is on the street then she has recently arrived.  She didn't seem too dirty, not like that woman and that man I'd seen for the past seven months that are filthy beyond words.

What would Jesus Do? I asked myself.  I'm wearing my green Urban Hope hoodie - a shirt known throughout Philadelphia as a shirt that represents Christ's Love.  I did what was right.  I got out of my car and asked her if she was hungry.  She looked up at me from her seat on the Wawa sidewalk and I knelt at her feet, introduced myself and asked her name.  She looked at me with scared kitten eyes and said she's very hungry and that her name is Martha.  (Her REAL name in case anyone is looking for her).  I gave her a Nature Valley Crunchy Oats 'n Honey granola bar and a slip of paper with the address of Urban Hope and the location of our soon to be held homeless dinner.  She thanked me in a tone of voice that demonstrated kind and physically weak appreciation.

As I drove to Urban Hope, I prayed that I would see at least one of the two other people I mentioned above.  Since August, when I started attending Urban Hope, I've regularly seen this man and woman, never together so I doubted they were together at all.  As I approached the corner of Lehigh and B Street, I saw the man with his tiny "Hungry" sign standing on the dotted line in the road looking for money to support his addiction.  I gave him a granola bar and a slip of paper telling him about the dinner and our church.  He half heartedly thanked me - a sign that food is not his primary interest.  He started to walk toward the corner of the intersection and there was the woman waiting for him.  Her name is Autumn and yes, that's her real name according to her.  As he approached her, she began choking - seriously choking, something was wrong and he knew it.  He shouted to me: "Hey Dude, do you have any water.  Autumn is choking.  She needs help!"

I could see the caring nature of humanity in his eyes.  I had a 3/4th full bottle of store bought bottled water right next to me and handed it to him through my car window.  This heroin addicted man who was made in the image of God took it from me with exuberant appreciation and assisted Autumn, a heroin addicted child of God made in God's image, with the water and she drank and found relief from her obviously serious situation.  She regained her composure and I asked her if she was OK.  She said yes and looked at me with relief and some degree of thankfulness.  I can't say that I saw kitten eyes in her, at least not much - possibly due to being on the street for so long.

All of this happened half a block from "The Tracks" which is the bullseye of the heroin epidemic in Philadelphia and the entire East Coast of our Great Nation.

Once at Urban Hope, I sat at a table in the fellowship hall and ate my salad, chatted with members of the homeless ministry team and texted with a friend to make plans for a fancy birthday dinner.  We loaded the church van and pickup truck with 120 +- dinners, clothes and shoes to give away to homeless addicts at the corner of Kensington and Allegheny.  We arrived there and met many addicts who want to get well and can't find up to do so.  One woman with two black eyes told us a story that demonstrated hiding physical abuse by her boyfriend.  Another woman, in her early 20s I guess, her real name is Kelly Ann, was so wasted that she could barely stand.  Her boyfriend was doing all he could to help her eat her dinner.  At one point, I was helping hold her up while a member of our team prayed with them.  Before we parted ways, Kelly Ann asked us each to give her a hug.  As she asked, I saw the same kitten eyes as I did in Martha.  Kelly Ann's eyes were more broken than Martha's but just as sad and even more lost.

I've now returned to my rented house in the suburbs.  I didn't see Martha when I circled the Wawa on my way home.  As I sit here, I think of her, the young lady with the two black eyes protecting her abuser, Autumn and her friend and Kelly Ann.  They are 45 minutes away from the colonial era chair that is holding me up.

All too often, we in the suburbs can be heard making hideous comments referring to such people as the trash of society.  Each one of these people who are made in the image of God are living on the street as you read this and are not trash.  But maybe we're onto something with that hideous comment.  They are not trash but they are litter - a lost litter of broken human kittens - human beings made by God, in the image of the God who created the universe and who died and rose again for their sins just as much as God died and rose for yours sins and mine.

It's now 11:10pm.  I better get to sleep in my kingsized bed.  Nine hours from now, I'll be circling a Wawa that is 45 minutes away from here looking for a scared kitten to feed in the name of Christ.   Maybe I'll find a litter...