Isaiah: “Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean; remove the evil of your doings from before my eyes; cease to do evil, learn to do good; seek justice, rescue the oppressed, defend the orphan, plead for the widow.” And then there is Abraham who moved from a city to travel around and live in a tent. “Indeed, by faith our ancestors received approval. … All of these died in faith without having received the promises, but from a distance they saw and greeted them. … they were strangers and foreigners on the earth, … seeking a homeland. … a heavenly one.” And we move on from the man who asked Jesus to advocate for him to get his inheritance from his brother and a guy with big barns to Jesus speaking to just his own little flock.
Jesus admonishes his little flock to remember, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Then he tells them to always be ready to receive the Son of Man.
Abraham took much of his wealth and all of his household with him on his journey though God had told him basically to travel light. He had slaves, too. And when he moved into an area, people noticed him, his large household and his huge herd of animals. God was watching over him and Abraham was searching for God and a homeland. Abraham sacrificed to God but we don’t know much about how he treated the poor around him. We know he offered hospitality to strangers and that he frequently forgot about his covenant with God. Yet, he is still recognized for his faith-he never returned to Ur.//
As various entities use the summertime and good weather to clear encampments of the unhoused, I wonder if Abraham’s camps were messy. I suspect they were. And, with grazing animals, they would have had to move frequently. The garbage left behind would be different than today’s garbage. No plastic, no polyester. And sanitation standards would be different. The natural fabric of tents that went moldy or wore out would be left behind and they would be biodegradable. Animal dung would fertilize the soil-that would be okay. The grasses and plants would recover from grazing. I guess in today’s world we treasure tidiness. We treasure folks who put their garbage bins out to be emptied into the garbage truck. For those of you who are unaware, the St. Mark discretionary fund paid for the dump fee when Chaplains on the Harbor went down to clean up in the Aberdeen encampments. Yes, we treasure our esthetic sense of things being tidy-or, rather, not being reminded that there are people who might need our help.
“The place where your treasure is, is the place you will most want to be, and end up being.” That’s The Message version of the above passage. I like being with my family. I like to travel. I like my home. I have a few family heirlooms I treasure. I have an extensive friend family. I can’t say I have much treasure stored up-just a fund to pay my taxes next year! I am close to moving my extra car along to someone else.
So, I try to be good. I try to help those I can. I try to stand with the poor. I recognize that my life is impinging on others in ways I may not be aware. And, I love interacting with folks whose lives are very different from mine. I hope that those interactions have value for them.
Recently during a jail visit, I asked to see a contemporary of one of my grandsons. I’ve known him since he was very young. I wasn’t sure he would remember who I was or even if he would want to spend some time with me. As he hesitated at the door (I was wearing my collar that day) I called out that I was this person’s grandmother and I remembered him from when he was in school. He came in and sat down. One of the first things he said was that he wasn’t really religious. I told him we could talk about anything he wanted and we didn’t need to talk about religion at all. We talked for quite a while. He talked very openly about how he felt and what his hopes were and how he had screwed up his life. I have real hope for him-he’s young, he has plenty of time to turn his life around for the better. We talked about options he has been offered. I asked if I can visit him again and he said he would like that. And, he asked me three times to tell my grandson, “Hi.” Unlike most of the others I visit, I know this man’s background. I know some of the heartache of loss that he has gone through-I hope that he can find the peace he needs and that our justice system can provide the resources so he can do that. There is a new mental health court option so please pray that he is accepted into it.//
As I noted in a Facebook post, last Sunday was amazing when James and I had all those to go meals to take to the encampments. We were wondering what to do with all the food (one person suggested we freeze a tub of the main course for the future) and I said I would really like to have enough food to cover both encampments in Aberdeen. I hate going down there with 10 or fewer meals when I know we will run out right away and have to turn people away with nothing. So, they dished up the extra tray and I had close to 40 meals to distribute. We didn’t have to turn anyone away! And, people really loved the meal! Protein, carbs, veggies, chocolate and fruit-what more could you ask for? And I got one hug!
This congregation cares about people and you have been putting up funds and labor to back up the claim. I see you as you “seek justice, rescue the oppressed, defend the orphan, plead for the widow.” I appreciate all that you do so I can do all the things I do. I want to keep going as long as I can! I guess that is what I really treasure!