We have a growing homelessness issue on the Plateau, reported Kimberly Fish, director of Plateau Outreach Ministries, to a recent gathering of area pastors and church leaders. Kimberly’s report told me that my children have classmates who don’t have a warm, safe place to go home at night. “Home” is a tent. Or a car. And that the concern is growing as people struggle to find – or keep – jobs.
The current economic downturn did not suddenly create a bunch of homeless families, but it has forced the rest of us to see them and to realize that “it could be me out there.” How would I want to be treated in their shoes (if they have shoes)? I would hope that people would see me as a human being, not a statistic or a “problem to be solved.” I would hope for compassion, especially from Christ-followers. Wasn’t Jesus himself homeless? Didn’t he say that when you help the poor it’s like you’re doing it for him?
Author Frederick Buechner writes: “We lie in our beds in the dark. There is a picture of the children on the bureau. A patch of moonlight catches our clothes thrown over the back of a chair. We can hear the faint rumble of the furnace in the cellar. We are surrounded by the reassurance of the familiar. When the weather is bad, we have shelter. When things are bad in our lives, we have a place where we can retreat to lick our wounds while tens of thousands of people, many of them children, wander the dark streets in search of some corner to lie down in out of the wind.
“Yet we are homeless even so in the sense of having homes but not being really at home in them. To be really at home is to be really at peace, and there can be no real peace for any of us until there is some measure of real peace for all of us…”
The old song said: “Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me.” Lord Jesus, give us hearts to serve our neighbors in need, especially your homeless daughters and sons, that there might truly be peace on earth this Christmas. Amen.