Anyways, if you read their blogs you'll see that I posted a few remarks. You see, T.C. & Bub (as well as other friends of mine) are a part of a "missional" church effort in the Normal Heights area called Adams Avenue Crossing. They emphasize the actions, kindness, grace & love of Jesus towards the marginalized and oppressed among us. We're talking about the poor, the homeless, the teens who've been kicked out of their homes and have no where else to go (Bub has a REALLY good post about this on his blog).
For a few months now, I've been engaging in some conversation with my friends from Adams Ave. about some differences between the missional church vs. the evangelical church...differences I won't go into in this post. But if you sum it up it's about showing the love of Jesus vs. sharing Jesus with our words, and whether or not that has to be an either/or philosophy. Frankly, while much of our conversations have been light-hearted and recreational, some of it has been just downright frustrating.
Last night though, it got personal. I was rushing around. I took my son, T3 to football practice, and got home late. Thursday nights are busy at JCC, the church I'm a Pastor at. I'm responsible for all the church's spiritual growth classes, and I have several through out the week and weekends. Thursday though, I had one class in its 2nd week, and another brand new one kicking off, plus I'm a small group leader for New Format, our College-Aged ministry at Journey.
So, I'm already late, racing down Jackson Dr. when out of the corner of my eye I see an older man (I assumed he was homeless) walking around on his crutches next to the local 7-11. I knew it was Ron! And my immediate thought was, "You ought to make sure he has dinner". No kidding, my very NEXT thought was, "There's no way you can stop, you're late, and have a very busy schedule tonight. Ron will be here tomorrow."
But of course I couldn't be sure that Ron WOULD be here tomorrow. The story of the Good Samaritan flashed through my mind. Was I really going to be one of "those" religious professionals that was too busy to help someone else? I'm convinced it was the LORD who was asking me that question. So I turned into the 7-11 parking lot (right in front of Ron) and turned off the car.
I got out, and the first thing Ron said was, "Could you spare some change? I'm trying to get something to eat". I responded, "Aren't you Ron?" Of course this startled him a bit, and he looked a bit concerned. So I quickly said, "You got to meet my friends T.C. & Bub today over at LeStat's!" He immediately loosened up, flashed a toothless smile and said "Yeah, they bought me some chili!"
I bought him a burrito and a bottle of water (sorry Bub :p ), and apologized for having to leave so quickly (but I really DID have to go!) He then said that I could find him outside of 7-11 everyday if I ever wanted to have dinner with him sometime.
This whole experience is really fresh in my mind, and T.C. encouraged me to post my experience and some thoughts...because I would LOVE to hear your thoughts and get some feedback on my experience from you all. There is a much needed dialogue that needs to happen with in the "C"hurch about meeting the needs of the "least of these".
Here are some raw thoughts:
1. Even though I help several hurting, hungry, desperate people as a part of my job every week, the experience I had meeting Ron (on the very same day that T.C. & Bub did) feels so much more "in my face". I don't know why that is.
- Is it because I wasn't being a Pastor, but just Todd?
- Is it because it was "my" $5.00 that bought his burrito?
2. Ron was very quick to let me know that he is a "good person". I wonder why he felt the need to qualify that to me?
3. While Ron looked concerned at first that I already knew his name, he also talked to me as if I had been his friend for a long time. I know the burrito was important, but have I been underestimating how important fellowship is for folks like Ron?
So that's it for now. What do you think?