This morning in his sermon, Fr. David Dearman referred to Randy Pausch's last lecture in which he imparts wisdom as he faces pancreatic cancer. I highly recommend that you view it at Randy Pausch's Last Lecture .
On a recent Sunday afternoon, I was out for my daily walk.That day I was heading for the Seawall, crossing the boulevard at 29th Street.The pedestrian “Walk” signal started counting down the seconds available for crossing.Halfway across the street, I met a woman walking in the other direction.I wished her, “good afternoon.”She smiled in response, but then said, “Eighteen seconds?Where’s the grace?”
What a great question!I hadn’t given it much thought and had just taken it for granted that the people who program traffic signals and control traffic around the island must have conducted several studies, hired consultants, and figured out that eighteen seconds was exactly the right amount of time for a pedestrian to occupy the crosswalk on a public roadway.After all, the roadway is designed for vehicles, right? Pedestrians are just tolerated.Cross from one side to the other in eighteen seconds or risk getting run over by a vehicle.
Now that my consciousness has been raised by another pedestrian, I can’t cross the street without hearing her question, “Where’s the grace?” Maybe I’ll suggest to the City Manager that reprogramming the lights with a longer grace period would be consistent with the City Council’s ongoing mission to make Galveston a more pedestrian-friendly city.
Meanwhile, back at the Church, it occurs to me that it would be a good discipline for a Christian to ask this question daily about other areas of life.Where’s the grace?We could all benefit from a lot more of it.
Where’s the grace – in my life, in the life of my community of faith, in my family, in my neighborhood, in the political campaign, in the actions of my government, in my workplace, in my classroom, in my relationship with my God?
Because by our Baptism we are children of God by grace and adoption, we are supposed to know about grace and spread it around. We are offered a healthy diet of grace through the Word of God and the Holy Eucharist.Those are provisions God has supplied so that we will never be starved for grace.We receive the means of grace so that we can become a means of grace in the world around us.When we become conscious of a lack of grace, we have an opportunity to change that situation.When we experience a moment of grace, we have an opportunity to celebrate it.Think about it!This is a world-changing opportunity we have here.
The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all.
Christians often confuse deliberation with mission. We are not "a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God's own people" so we can have meetings or sit around feeling special. St. Peter says Christians are given this identity "in order that you may proclaim the mighty acts of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light." We are not supposed to be defined by our meetings but by our message.
For years I have been humbled and disturbed by the following rewrite of the Parable of the Judgment of the Nations.
I was hungry and you formed a humanities club and discussed my hunger, thank you.
I was imprisoned and you crept off quietly to your chapel in the cellar and prayed for my release.
I was naked and in your mind you debated the morality of my appearance.
I was sick and you knelt and thanked God for your health.
I was homeless and you preached to me of a spiritual shelter of the love of God.
I was lonely and you left me alone to pray for me.
You seemed so holy, so close to God, but I am still very hungry and lonely and cold.
What if every congregation of Christians rewrote the parable in terms of meaningful actions they are committed to take in response to each plea.I suspect it would change the complexion of Christianity.Every congregation would soon be known on the community grapevine for the unique way they live out the implications of the gospel in response to the needs of their neighbors.How will you bring God’s redemptive love to the hungry, imprisoned, naked, sick, homeless, and lonely women, men, and children at the doorstep of your church?How might the Christians with whom you worship become living proof that the good news of Jesus is really good?
Galveston has a disproportionately large number of homeless men and women. This is due in part to the presence of public hospital facilities and in part to our mild climate. The number of homeless persons fluctuates throughout the year as the weather and job market changes.
For many years, homeless women and men have slept nightly in the shelter of the Cloister of Trinity Church between Eaton Hall and the Sanctuary. Our understanding has always been that all are welcome here as long as they help us take care of the place and exhibit appropriate behavior. Sexton Linda Jenkins and her staff have established a relationship with them that will encourage as much order and cleanliness as possible. We have asked that they not arrive earlier than ten o’clock in the evening and that they depart no later than six o’clock in the morning. The custodial staff is always here by half past six in the morning to ensure their departure. I’ve requested that they ask anyone engaging in illegal or disruptive behavior to leave and if they do not leave to summon the police. Their respect for the church’s hospitality helps them to maintain order. It is evident that most of those who come night after night look upon each other as friends.
Recently, as I was visiting with some of our overnight guests on the Cloister, I asked if there was anything we might be able to do to help them. They were very grateful for the simple privilege of sleeping in a place where they are welcome and safe. However, they did ask if it would be possible to have the use of the restroom that opens onto the Cloister. I gave it some thought and concluded that it is a reasonable request and would be a compassionate gesture on the part of Trinity Church. My only stipulation is that they help us take care of it, keep it clean, and not abuse the privilege. Linda keeps cleaning supplies in the restroom and reports that the plan is working well thus far.
Of the eight persons I talked with on that recent evening, six were veterans. Their presence heightens our awareness of the growing number of veterans among the homeless population. They also remind us of Jesus’ summons to care for those in need. We currently have three teams of parishioners who serve meals on three Thursday evenings a month at the Salvation Army.
In worship week after week, we sit beneath the magnificent Sealy Memorial Altar Window, at the bottom of which are inscribed Jesus’ words recorded in the Gospel According to St. Matthew, “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” I am grateful to God that we are able to do these small things that mean so much to these, our neighbors in need. In serving them, we serve our Savior.
Your thoughtful comments will make a visit to e-piphanies a richer experience for everyone. By clicking on the "Comments" link beneath each post, you can read the remarks others have written or add your own. If you leave a question, I will respond in the journal. In order to maintain the integrity of this blog, all comments are reviewed before being published on line.