Tonight I am helping with the Soup Run

Tonight I am helping out with the Birmingham Soup Run. Faith groups around the city are organised in a rota to provide meals and hot drinks to the homeless in the city centre at 8pm every night of the week.

Our group does the 4th Friday of every month. We meet up to make crates of sandwiches, flasks of soup and tea and catch up with one another before piling into a couple of cars and giving out free food on the pavement, opposite a multi-story car park.

In some way, I feel it gives me a bit more authenticity or integrity to talk and write about community and social justice. Perhaps I am doing “my bit” for the poor and downtrodden, but I don’t feel a sense of triumph at the end of the night, or feel like patting myself on the back…

I just feel sad. Really sad. The brief exchanges I have with our friends who receive the food make me realise how human, how broken, how real these people are. For a short time, I get a glimpse and a whiff of their lives and it makes me feel that a few hours once a month is not what a first Century rabbi had in mind when he spoke about separating the sheep from the goats and giving away my shirt and coat to those who need them.

Far from feeling happy that I might have done a good thing by taking part in the soup run, I feel frustrated that I am constrained by the norms of society and my own fear from getting involved in the lives of these broken people. I don’t want to pay of my conscience with a couple of hours of good deeds, but desire a heart that is big enough to care for them all dearly.

They are all someone’s brother, father, grandfather, daughter. All I can do is silently pray for them, knowing and secretly hoping that I won’t be called to be the answer to my own prayers.

Encouragement

I was thinking about encouragement this week. I was struck by two things, firstly I wondered whether I was encouraging enough to my children and family. Secondly I wondered if I sought after encouragement too much from those around me for things that I do?

As a community, I know that we should be encouraging one another, that is one of the reasons to belong to any community, religious or otherwise, but when British reserve, lack of time and my brave face combine, I am left feeling that practically no-one really cares enough about the things that I think, say, write and do to encourage me, beyond clicking a “Like” button.
If there is a God, and all that I try to believe about Him/Her is true then I shouldn’t be worrying about what others think, because surely their opinions don’t matter. I should be secure in the knowledge of an eternal, unending love. But I’m not…
I don’t hear God as an audible voice, he doesn’t send me encouraging texts or give me hugs. He doesn’t respond to my blogs, tweets and Facebook updates and certainly doesn’t need to buy my book. That responsibility lies with the people who are known as His hands and feet, His son’s body. But they’re only human.
So perhaps, I need more faith and belief in a God who calls me beloved, and less expectation of people and myself. Perhaps I need to ask myself:
Would I still write, sing, blog, tweet, if no person cared about what I thought? Or is everything I do an expression of reflected, eternal love, that’s between me and God and everyone in between?

Our first go at house church

Believers
Four adults
Five children
The former more broken
Than the latter
Silent worship
And wonder
With music
And images
Of God’s earth
Placed
On its foundation
Bible passage
A demonstration
Not a sermon
Of what a firm foundation is
And thoughts
Response
Of what our foundations are
Prayer for the sick
Shared food
Shared time
With each other
And with God

If Jesus lived here

He would take the locks off the doors
for those who still needed to use them
I’d ask him to build us a bigger dining room table and a tree-house
and sit at his feet instead of doing the housework
I’d try not to keep Him all to myself
then ask him to listen to the songs I’ve written

I’d take him to work and hide him under my desk
and ask him to heal people
or pass me post-it notes
with words of knowledge
and prophecy for my patients
because I can’t hear his voice very well
No change there then
though I’d have to learn to read Greek
or Hebrew
or Aramaic

Every meal would have a bread and wine course
and we’d do fish on the barbeque for breakfast
with story telling for the children
and grown ups
It would be like heaven on earth
If Jesus lived here

How does an eye look after a foot?

Or a hand look after a belly button?
Except to realise
Make real
the knowledge
belief
and attitude
that one is connected to the other
as one body
when one part hurts
we all
hurt
we weep
with those that weep

the body may function
without a foot
but it will limp
and be unbalanced
surely people
are superior
to prosthetics

How can we not?

How we love one another
is how others
will know
we follow the way
the word

How can we not?
what stops us
from loving each other?

Lack of love of God
Lack of love for God
Lack of love for ourselves

How can we?
what helps us
to love each other

Can frameworks facilitate?
Or is it just too personal?
A gift?
A fruit?