Eighteenth Sunday after Pentecost
I have a secret to share will all of you. Every day I work with God. I know… I know… it sounds crazy, but I honestly do. We have laughs, share tears, and find ways to solve the world problems or at least the ones that God is interested in. God is nothing like I ever imagined and everything I ever hoped for. We have our ups and our downs, our good times and our bad.
Every time I think I can’t go on, God clears a path for me to follow. Sometimes I look at God and ask, “Are you f#@%ing kidding me right now?” and sometimes God looks at me through weary eyes and says, “Why aren’t you doing more for Me?” Occasionally I pretend that I teach God something that He didn’t know but most times, God is teaching me lessons about humanity that I will use for the rest of my life.
I could be selfish and keep God to myself but that isn’t what She wants. God wants all of you to work with Her too and so begrudgingly I am willing to share my knowledge of God with you.
There are a few ground rules I need to lay down before I introduce you to God. I do this, so you don’t feel embarrassed or awkward when you meet God for the first time. The last thing I want you to do is look away or stumble through your words as I did the first time I met God. Please pay close attention because I want you to make a good first impression and I’m here to help.
First, I want you to know that God hasn’t showered in a while. God may not smell as heavenly as you want Him to but it’s because God has been busy traveling from town to town trying to spread His message of unconditional love. Second, you may need to bring God a bite to eat because God has been too busy trying to teach others about compassion and kindness and forgets to eat.
Third, God has a few teeth missing because He hasn’t had time to see a dentist so make sure the food you give God is soft and easy to digest. Fourth, be aware that sometimes God screams at the top of Her lungs, so people will look up from their cell phones and notice Her. God is also prone to lay down on the sidewalk and close His eyes because God’s tired and discouraged from the daily looks of fear and disgust. If you see God lying there, please don’t wake Her up. Just leave a sleeping bag next to God and the angels will take note of it.
Fifth, God may ask you for money because God is hoping for a bus ticket to the next town or maybe a Starbuck’s coffee. God doesn’t like to ask for anything, but I’m here to remind you that He gave up His life for you so maybe a cup of coffee’s not too much to ask. Sixth, God may not say thank you. God’s been waiting for you to say it to Her for years and if I can be candid, God’s all but given up hope that you ever will.
Seventh, God may not have a fancy suitcase for His belongings. God did have one, but She’s been told to leave so many places She lost it along the way. Last, God’s clothes might be a bit dirty. He used to have lots of shirts, but God’s given them off His back to serve the needs of others.
So here is a tip: Please try and bring God a pair of brand-new white socks in a zip lock bag with a few other toiletries. And if it isn’t too much to ask, put a note in the bag to remind God that you love Her. Maybe use words like “Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes not me but the one who sent me.”
I would be kidding myself if I thought this is what it would take to get everyone sitting here today out of their seats, out on the streets, and on to the path of Love. I do hope that by being here today and sharing my thoughts with all of you, I can help you lean into the notion of “yes and” when it comes to helping those without houses. Before you start thinking of me as just another super model out to save the world, let me break it down for you.
Four short years ago, I was a non-believer. If you asked me what I thought about people living on the streets, I would have told you that they were scary, unstable, mean and ungrateful. They frustrated the Jesus out of me.
I was in the middle of jobs when I decided to volunteer to be on the board of St. Paul’s homeless advisory group. FYI – it was not a coincidence that I would join a church named St. Paul’s.
I figured I could impart my wisdom on this group of committed volunteers and move on. I wanted to make it super easy for myself, help God’s team, and get back to life. I was acting like a Christian but lacking Christ. God was taking note and decided it was time to launch Colleen 2.0.
Shortly after I started volunteering for this group, my marriage fell apart. Everything I thought I had in my hands fell to the floor and broke into a million pieces. I had to reinvent myself and I had to do it quick.
During those days of grief, anger and disbelief, I was reminded that nobody is immune to trauma. It happens when you least expect it and it always leaves you struggling to cope with it. If I am honest with you, there were times I wished I could have numbed myself right out of existence. The only thing that saved me was the grace of God and a phenomenal therapist.
In my darkest moments, I begged God for help. I asked God to make me a vessel for His works. I decided that I may not have a lot to offer but what I had left to give was going to be God’s. Just like the gospel from Mark, God’s message was clear…” Whoever wants to be first must be last of all and servant of all.”
Fast forward four years. That volunteer group led me to create a whole new agency with a staff of four serving over 100 clients each year. “Those people” are now “my people” and I am using my story to show all of you that if I can be changed so can you. Word to the wise…if you make a request to be God’s vessel, make sure you mention you want a day off now and then.
People who live without houses are the best example of God that I know on this planet. If you can find a way to love them, you can find a way to love anyone. Instead of pointing out what they lack, what if you look for what they possess…a smile, a heart, a soul. They could be your greatest teachers if you would only give them a chance.
Can you imagine how you would treat them if you looked at each one of them as if they were God? Promise me that at the very least, you will lean towards love and carry that zip lock baggie in your car. It’s a small step in the direction of love but it may lead you to a path you never expected.
Maybe you can work on filling the baggies with your family or friends, so you can insure that it gets done. Or what if you went a step further and created a 50’s Sock Hop? It’s an old-fashioned Dance A Thon were everyone who wants to dance can bring a pair of new white socks as well as a sponsorship form to raise money for a local shelter. Dancing and doing good at the same time?! Is she serious?
As James said in our second reading “Show by your good life that your works are done with gentleness born of wisdom…pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits without a trace of partiality or hypocrisy.”
If you leave here with only one gem from me today let it be this…you do not have to do anything or be anything to be deserving of love. Let me say it one more time…you do not have to do anything or be anything to be deserving of love. You just have to be you and that is enough. You will always be enough. You will always matter.
Even if you are addicted, messy, broken, bruised, haven’t seen a shower for years or are screaming at the top of your lungs on the corner of the street, you are worthy of love. It’s easy to give love to people who are nice, friendly and open. Try and imagine a world where we love the people who are just the opposite.
What if we found things we have in common instead of judging each other for the things we don’t. I promise you the people that need it the most are the ones who are spreading the message of hate. If you are sick of seeing people struggling under the weight of injustice get out there and get moving.
Let me assure you that as much as I want Him to, God is not coming back to this world looking like Hugh Jackman. Remember that God came in the form of a common man who hung out with prostitutes, tax collectors and fishermen. Is it such a stretch for us to believe God might come back as a homeless person?
So my dear ones, in closing I ask you to put on your dancing shoes, fill up your baggies and send the message of love to people who may never thank you for the work you have done. Do God’s work in this world simply because it’s the right thing to do. Do it even when it’s hard because it’s what we as Christians are called to do. And if you ever find your road too hard to bear and start to doubt how precious you are hold up your mirror and repeat after me: I am enough. I am worthy, I am loveable, I am.