If you have followed this blog for any length of time, then you know that one of the ministries of the church I serve is our Flying J ministry.
Twice a month we head over to the Flying J truck stop where we do laundry with people, make sure people can get showers, and eat a meal and worship with people at Denny’s. Our target audience are the homeless and poor. We primarily work with those who live in their vehicles in the parking lot and those that live in the motels along the Carlisle Pike. We’ve been doing this for a bit over a year.
The ministry has grown over the year – both in terms of the number of people we work with as well as our partnerships. We are grateful for these partnerships. Representatives of Community Cares, the emergency shelter in town, comes regularly. This evening we had representatives from UPMC to assist people with applications for insurance and SNAP.
So now that you are caught up, let’s turn to the title.
Flying J nights are…
They are joyful and joy filled. Each time we gather, we are surrounded by people who are grateful. There is a great deal of gratitude.
During our informal worship at Denny’s we have an opportunity for everyone to offer up a prayer – whether it be a petition to God or a thanksgiving. More often than not, the pray intention is a thanksgiving.
Flying J nights are humbling. How else can I feel when I get to know people who are homeless? Getting to know these people is very humbling. It causes me to think when I complain about something going on in my life.
Flying J nights are a foretaste of the feast to come. When we sit at the tables and share communion in Denny’s I can’t help but think about the feast to come – a feast of plenty. I can’t help but think of Jesus’ Beatitudes –
‘Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
‘Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
‘Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
‘Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
‘Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.
‘Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
‘Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
‘Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
‘Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
Source – Matthew 5:3-12, NRSV
Flying J nights are inspiring. I draw inspiration from the people who come to help. They come, consistently. They offer something inspiring – love. They pay attention to people who are so often forgotten or ignored. We spend time with people. We get to know their names and their stories. We try to figure out ways to assist people. We eat with people. We laugh. We share in gratitude.
Flying J nights are a group of people being church. The Flying J ministry is a definition of what it means to be church. To love, to build community, to share Good News, to commune together, to be cleansed, forgiven, and fed. To be fully who we are called to be. It may not be what the world expects or thinks much about. But it is what we are called to nonetheless.
Flying J nights are beautiful. How else can I possibly describe it?