Jim invited me to attend the monthly brunch at St Johns Covenant church in North Portland. Not being a church goer, I wasn’t sure what to expect although I knew I would be in familiar company with some of the friends I had met at the Operation Nightwatch mobile hospitality center in St Johns.
On my first visit I slipped into the back of the hall midway through a bible reading, feeling like a fish out of water. Not only a non church goer, but also much more well off then most of the folks who gathered around the pastor. I guess I didn’t know what to expect from the homeless guests. I could certainly understand them paying lip service to the pastor, here they are, homeless, living a tough life, striving to survive day to day. I think I would have dismissed God as uncaring if I was one them.
In contrast, the community paid close attention to what was being said. Coincidentally or not, the passage talked about what it is to be a wealthy person, to have lots of material possessions and not finding satisfaction. Contrasting that with being someone who has fallen on hard times and yet has enormous satisfaction and gratitude in their life. I’ve observed this firsthand in Africa and the homeless community.
I have thought a lot about my experience and why this homeless community is so strongly connected to the church. I think it simply comes down to the fact that they care in a world that usually turns a blind eye to those in need. They are there to provide meals and a warm place to stay on sub-zero night. I would believe in someone who did that for me.
I wonder if it is the sense of “belonging” and community that provides the foundation for gratitude?
That’s a big question and I have no doubt they play a part.