Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Living the gospel in the parking lot

I recently visited with a group of clients in the CCSC parking lot. They found our ministry from a nonprofit that helps people with multiple diagnoses to become self-sufficient. CCSC complements their work by providing food and clothing through the Emergency Services program and employment assistance through the JobNet program.

I visited with one of the men about his experience with us, and not surprisingly, he was grateful for our help. He had a bag of food and a JobNet flyer showing upcoming workshops. He planned to attend the Linked-In workshop because he thought it would better position his employment chances. The man next to him received a suit, tie and shirt so he can start his new job appropriately-attired.

Each of these people have hardships that are difficult to imagine living with on a daily basis. The woman near the edge of the group looked forlorn. I wondered what her story was.

Our clients are Jesus's people. By that, I mean that Jesus reached out to people who were downtrodden and forgotten by society. He showed compassion. In the last parable before his death (Matthew 25:31-46), he told his disciples that when you feed the hungry and clothe the naked, you are actually serving him. I hope Jesus would find us serving him well at CCSC.

This is Holy Week: a time to focus on the passion, crucifixion, and resurrection of Jesus. My personal spiritual walk is rich because of this time in the church calendar. But I have to continually remind myself that dedication to spirituality is meaningless if I don't apply the tenets of faith to my ordinary, daily life. I need to remember that stopping to talk in the parking lot keeps my faith grounded.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Life is like a cup of coffee

A few months ago I spoke at St. Thomas Episcopal Church. The pastor, The Reverend David Browder, began his sermon with a discussion on how society has changed over time, just like coffee. He noted that we used to all drink from one pot of coffee, but now individualize our choices and no longer share a coffee pot.

This analogy has stayed with me: a community coffee pot vs. a non-fat, soy latte for one person, a regular, no-foam latte for another, etc..., etc...

I don't want to make anyone feel guilty about all the coffee choices we have now...I have my favorite coffee drinks also.

But returning to the sermon's point: I wonder if we have less of a sense of community than we did a generation or two ago. Do we know our neighbors? Do we know the people who sit in our pews at church or shop beside us at the grocery store? I ask these questions because I think the less we know, the more we can become detached from others' problems.

CCSC is not a neighborhood, but is a community for volunteers, staff and clients. Most of our volunteers have not undergone the crises that the clients have: their background and life stories are different. But the volunteers listen patiently, taking in all the clients have to share, and then determining how we can best help. I rarely observe judgement, but instead see compassion and sadness at how hard some people's live are.

Understanding others, especially those who have different backgrounds, is akin (I think) to drinking from the same coffee pot.