The Man in the Doorway
By Vera Entwistle of Eugene, OR, USA
“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength. The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” —Mark 12:30–31 NRSV
Since returning to live in the United States, the number of homeless people has stunned me. I see them asking for help on every street corner. There have been many articles in our local newspaper addressing whether we should give money to people in need or give to organized charities. I want to respond in the most effective way. On cold and rainy days I see the “I am hungry” signs, and am compelled to give a few dollars.
This week I came to church alone, planning to check on the food stock in our Community Cupboard. As I pulled into the parking lot, I saw a man fast asleep on the carpet in front of the church doors. All of his earthly belongings lay in an old grocery cart by his side. I sat in my car and looked at the man.
Should I wake him? What will I do if he is drunk or high on drugs? If I wake him will he be angry? If I invite him into the church, will he come in with me? I could fix him a meal. Am I foolish? Is it safe for me to try to offer help?
I deeply wanted to be a refuge for this man, but I was afraid.
The next Sunday I was to give the Disciples’ Generous Response during our worship, and I shared the story of the man asleep in our church doorway. I admitted my fears and openly shared that seeing this man had reduced me to tears of helplessness.
Sometimes I’m not financially able to help. However, I also shared there are times when I have no reason to withhold giving, but I don’t give. Why is that? Is it because I need to see the need right under my nose before it moves me to action. Was it seeing this man right on the doorstep of my church that caused my emotional response?
Today, we know the needs all around us. The question is, will we respond?
Prayer for Peace
Compassionate God, help us not to find reasons we cannot give, but to find more room in our hearts. Help us find reasons to share the peace of Christ.
Spiritual Practice: Abolish Poverty, End Suffering
Read and reflect on John 21:15–17 as a meditation. Direct your mind to places where people have no homes. Think of the wars and natural disasters that destroy the homes of refugees. Be aware of the hungry and homeless who wander the streets or live in shelters. Let the images fill your mind. Offer a prayer for those who suffer. Imagine Christ is tending those sheep. Think of ways you might end their suffering as part of your mission. Throughout the day, carry in your mind the voice of Christ saying: “Feed my lambs…tend my sheep…feed my sheep.”
Today, God, even if the need is not right at my door, I will remember someone is hungry somewhere.