The Oasis - May 9, 2019
Author: Rev. Dan Hollis
May 09, 2019
May 9, 2019
by Pastor Dan Hollis
I once knew an 82-year-old woman who woke up one day and decided that she needed to help the homeless. It was nothing like anything she had ever done in her life, but it was something she just knew she needed to do. Now, she knew there were a lot of opportunities that were closed to her, because they require training and vocation that just weren’t realistic at that point in her life. So one day she walked into a soup kitchen.
She told the people there that she wanted to volunteer to help the homeless. She was ready and raring to go to ladle out soup, to hand out sandwiches or bread, and to greet people with love. But they said “no, we need your help in the kitchen.” And she said, “Oh, yes, I can cook.” And they said “no, we need you over there at the sink.” And she spent the day washing pots and pans and dishes, never once laying an eye on a homeless person.
But you know what? The poor were fed that day. Without clean dishes, or pots and pans, there would have been nothing to feed the homeless with. No food could be cooked, and no plates of bread or bowls of soup could even leave the kitchen, because by the grace of God health and safety standards apply to feeding the homeless just as much as they apply to five-star restaurants.
My high school chorus teacher used to always say that old cliche “a chain is as strong as its weakest link.” He said it so often that it became like a call to worship. He’d say, “a chain is as strong as its weakest—” and then he’d pause and all two hundred of us would say “link,” in four-part harmony. With feeling.
The last couple of weeks, for a variety of reasons, I’ve been thinking more and more about all the people struggling out on the streets or in homeless shelters. All the folks living out of half-junked cars held together by rust and iron will. And all the folks who didn’t make it through the winter, as mild as it was, because they couldn’t get a roof over their heads. I look at promises like “the poor shall eat and be satisfied,” from Psalm 22 and I ask myself, “is God feeding them? Is God holding up God’s end of the bargain?”
And then I remember that image of the chain. When one link isn’t doing its job, the whole chain falls apart, and whatever you’re hauling out of the woods goes sliding back on down the hill. That’s just the nature of a chain. It’s the nature of a team, a body, and a church, too.
It’s also, I think, the nature of our relationship with God. God forged one link in the chain, and it’s up to us as human beings to forge the other. And when our two links are linked? There’s nothing we can’t haul up, and there’s nothing that can break that chain down.
So how do we make it happen? How can we hook our link to the chain God has been reaching out with every day?
Do we wish to see God feed the poor? Then we can wash dishes at a soup kitchen. Do we wish to see God bring an end to the conflict between members of different religions? Then we can go make friends with a Muslim. Do we wish to see God bring comfort to our loved ones in their time of need? Then we can make time to be with them and show them just how much they are loved. Do we wish to see God heal this broken planet? Then we should do the work of healing wherever we find ourselves.
Can we make all of these things happen? Does washing dishes once a month end world hunger? Of course it doesn’t. But God has made a promise. God is reaching out, fifty percent of the way. And if each and every one of us reaches back, in what little ways we can, together we can make miracles happen.
Song I’m listening to these days: “None of Us are Free,” by Solomon Burke.