I keep hearing how great our economy is. But I keep running into more and more people who are struggling to survive. I hear about how people have more money in their pockets, yet I find more people who have none.
Yesterday I was able to help a mother and her daughters have shelter for a night. They needed one night as they were working on their trailer to get it ready for tomorrow. I don’t know all the details, but I know this was a family in need. This was a time I could do something.
I also helped serve food to the homeless and poor in the nearby city. While there, I was approached by two individuals for help. One, a woman, was seeking transportation to Manhattan to “go home.” She was homeless and said that she had no money. There was no waiting until tomorrow – she had no where else to go. What was I to do? That kind of ticket is beyond my means. I gave her directions to a local shelter and prayed with her. I felt helpless.
The other gentleman approached me while he was in line getting food. He seemed upset. He inquired if I was the pastor at the church where the food was being given out. I wasn’t, I told him. He asked if the church would help him get a tent. He was currently sleeping under a tarp in the woods and it was starting to get a bit cold at night. While we talked, it seemed as though the church had let him down before – not necessarily this church, just the church in general. The snark in his voice gave it away. Would I be just another church person who would let him down?
Yesterday when I preached I talked about the child sex abuse scandal rocking the Catholic Church. I have struggled with this story all week-long. So many victims. So many abusers. So much cover up. And for what purpose? To protect an institution? When the truth comes out like it has, how has the institution been protected? And why is the institution more important that young boys and girls? This isn’t just a Catholic Church problem either. It’s a human problem.
So many in need. Yet I keep hearing about the great economy. As if that will make it all better. It won’t. Don’t bother telling me about how great the economy is. The economy of the people I have been with is crappy. It’s poor. It’s broken their trust. It’s let them down. It has left them homeless.
So many in need. And yesterday I got to participate in a different economy – the economy of salvation. I presided at our regular worship services and offered something with great savings – Jesus, the living bread of heaven. I also had the privilege of offering communion to the poor and homeless before the meal they would eat. Many took the bread and ate it. I have no idea how many understood what they were doing. But taking communion isn’t about understanding it – as if it’s really understandable when you get to the core of it. Instead, this bread was life-giving bread. It was a reminder of the promise of Jesus to be with us until the end of the age. It was a reminder of the forgiveness of sin. It was a reminder that Jesus offers true food that fills us beyond our stomachs. It is food for the journey for these men and women – the journey of living on the streets.
This is the economy I know. This economy far surpasses any human economy and what it has to offer. In the economy of salvation, there are no recessions or depressions. There is only an abundance of the Bread of Life. So many in need. And more than enough of Jesus to go around. Better than any economy this world could ever offer.