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.
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?
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
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
Or a hand look after a belly button?
Except to realise
that one is connected to the other
as one body
when one part hurts
with those that weep
the body may function
without a foot
but it will limp
and be unbalanced
How we love one another
is how others
we follow the way
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?