I have talked a lot about holiness and getting close to God; about His love for us and my love for Him.
Talk is cheap or can be.
The church I am part of does something spectacular on the third Saturday of each month. A group of people who are aware of God’s love for them cooks and delivers a hot meal to some of the broken and hurting people on Vancouver’s East Side. There’s a building there cramped among empty shops, hotel/hostels and a few businesses. The pavement outside littered with the detritus of society. The people we would all prefer to walk past and pretend don’t exist. Drunks with bottles in hand, drinking stuff that would make you and me vomit probably. Addicts dealing scraps of pills and such, hand to hand without shame or fear. Prostitutes looking for business, those with mental health and other problems. There are little blankets or sheets of paper set out with stuff to sell. A pair of shoes, a sweater, other bits of clothing, an old banged up bag – I didn’t look too closely to be truthful.
The building is called Potter’s Place and twice a day they open their doors to worship and minister God’s word and a meal to the people around and about. Honestly it’s a dingy small place, not anywhere I would want to go into for a meal, but then I have some high standards. But I have a feeling the stable in Bethlehem felt a lot like it when Mary and Joseph went there one desperate night. The people coming in and out, passing by outside aren’t so used to making eye contact. Not so easy for me sometimes to look at them either – it reminded me of how people might have averted their eyes from a cross on Golgotha and the criminal being executed there.
The people coming in to eat probably think that we think we are doing them a huge favour by bringing food, talking to them, telling them about a Jesus they most often cannot even relate to. They could not be more wrong. It is our privilege to go there. It is our duty to give our time to the lost, the broken, the prisoners, the hungry wherever they might be, in whatever situation or circumstance. Not one person in the room last night was there because they were good enough, because they were righteous or had it made. Every single one in that room needed Jesus as Saviour. The only difference was some of us had realised it and accepted Him. And we have come to understand that it is the demonstration of God’s love in this so practical way that is going to touch hearts and bring even the possibility of Salvation, Redemption to the people down there.
I am not denying God’s power, if He chooses to anoint His Word through a speaker to pierce hearts then I will be on my knees thanking Him. If He chooses to use signs and wonders to deliver and heal and set free – I will be there worshipping Him. But often it is the still small voice. The conversation, the loving word, the witness that He uses; the connection that breaks into a heart and softens it for the move of His Holy Spirit.
I could go on and on about this topic, and I might another day. But I want to thank the team who gave up their Saturday day time to prepare and cook the food we would deliver in the evening. I want to thank the team who gathered in the evening, venturing out into a place of violence and desperation with open hands and love. The hands that served the food, the faces that smiled and greeted, the bodies that cleaned and tidied.
This is love.