Sunday, October 12, 2014
Our Thanksgiving Door
Jesus the Homeless-- Timothy Schmalz
Today people most will enter Bridge St. Church from the Church St. door rather than the Bridge St. door. The Bridge St. entrance is our through-the-week business door. People come and go from the office and enter for meetings and events.
The Bridge St door is also the one through which folk enter for our Thank God It's Friday meal distribution program and for the six weeks of Inn from the Cold in January and February. This would be the "poor door" to us Heidi Neumark's term in a recent Christian Century article. She observes that that there is class separation in many congregations doing worthwhile social service work. She speaks of the front-door people and side-door people and I was jolted by her descriptions because they are true. She is too close to home when she says that many churches are involved in social service rather than social change.
I am now serving my fourth congregation with a significant meal program. The 8000+ meals of the meal ministries at Bridge St. are remarkable. There are more than 150 volunteers who impress me no end. I have always wondered if we create two congregations with these outreach ministries and what Jesus is calling us to do.
As I was writing this on Friday a young guy came to the door seeking financial help for baby formula. We have a fair number of people with a variety of woes and needs. Again, our congregation is very generous to our Benevolent Fund. But we rarely see any of the folk we assist through the week on Sundays and I understand why they don't come.
This Thanksgiving I will ponder this some more. Is Christ's calling us to move beyond side-door and front-door congregations? The gospel message doesn't have two doors. What would that be like for us?