Welcome to my web log! (blog) I hope that these entries will give you a glimpse into my world and the spirit I bring to my ministry. I write new entries every couple of days, so check out the archives and check in again soon. Looking forward to meeting you in person…

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Last night I partook in one of the great pleasures of church life: hospitality. My home congregation participates in a program that provides resources for homeless youth in Chicago. The average age of the homeless American, if I remember correctly, is nine years old. The community of my home congregation is in the seat of our country’s homeless youth population. If you are a teen who needs to leave an abusive household, been kicked out because you are transgendered, or have fallen through the cracks of “the system” for our children, Belmont is the place to be. A 24-hour neighborhood, one doesn’t stand out as homeless if you can keep yourself looking good.

So at our church, in the midst of terrible wind and wet snow, church volunteers gathered in our very modest kitchen. Sally made her mother’s ham and navy bean soup by the gallons. Cameron, Adam, Paul and I joined with Sally in making 150 sandwiches. We then met with the staff of the agency called the Night Ministry and learned more about homeless youth and some of the folks we would be serving. I have encountered homeless youth when I volunteered years ago at the National Runaway Switchboard as a liner, trying to hook them up with resources around the nation, or even a bus ticket home if the situation was safe and stable (rare).

Yesterday was such a dismal weather day. But to get into that kitchen just injected me with joy and gratitude. That kitchen was my point of entry into the church. I have always loved to cook, so I was recruited to strap on an apron and join the kitchen brigade for all-church events. In that simple act, I was drawn into church life. Hospitality, when I needed it most. I was out of college and scared about the vast future yawning before me.

What would I do with my life? (Chop carrots! ) What would I do when I grew up? (Learn about the inner workings and conflicts in the church while browning onions!) With whom would I share my life? (Come over to my house and help us make a tagine!)

So last night we made sandwiches and extended hospitality to one another by learning more about who we were. Then we went to the streets with the Night Ministry, serving up that hospitality. After most of the folks had gotten soup and sandwiches, I got the chance to mingle with folks. One man had just restarted the twelve-step program. He was homeless. He thanked us for the food. He said, “God is good!”

It is one thing to sit in a theology class and struggle with theodicy versus the benevolence of god. It is another to hear a homeless alcoholic man tell me that God is good. But church, along with other structures that care about human beings, is an agent of hospitality, of that goodness. God is good? In my book, our human hands and hearts have the choice to express that larger goodness that lies beyond our total comprehension. Hospitality is a path toward that greater good. And everybody understands it! Come in, sit, eat. Come in, sit, chop vegetables. Come in, sit, and be who you are. Come in, sit, and be nourished.

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a poem to nourish you today…

one of my very favorites

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“Love after Love” by Derek Walcott

The time will come
When, with elation,
you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door, in your own mirror,
and each will smile at the other’s welcome,

And say, sit here. Eat.
You will love again the stranger who was your self.
Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart
to itself, to the stranger who has loved you

all your life, whom you ignored
for another, who knows you by heart.
Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,

the photographs, the desperate notes,
peel your own image from the mirror.
Sit. Feast on your life.

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