Later Jesus and his disciples were at home having supper with a collection of disreputable guests. Unlikely as it seems, more than a few of them had become followers. The religion scholars and Pharisees saw him keeping this kind of company and lit into his disciples: “What kind of example is this, acting cozy with the riffraff?”
Jesus, overhearing, shot back, “Who needs a doctor: the healthy or the sick? I’m here inviting the sin-sick, not the spiritually-fit.”
– Mark 2:15-17 (The Message)
Well, this winter is marching on.
We had a few warmer days last week, a bit of a break, but now we’ve hit yet another cold snap. And it wasn’t remotely gradual. We went from +12 degrees on Friday to it feeling like -24 that same night. Brutal!
I needed to be outside for just 20 minutes or so on the weekend and found myself unbelievably cold and a little whiny. But then I quickly remembered how fortunate I was to have a warm place to go to and how awful it must be to be homeless right now.
That led me to proudly remembering that we just opened our brand new shelter this week, New Hope Leslieville. After years of searching for a building, renovating it, and seemingly countless obstacles along the way, we are now up and running. The persistence, the drive, and the unwillingness on the part of our leadership to give up for the sake of providing shelter and much-needed programming for single men with no home is a shining example of acting on our mission statement.
As a reminder, our focus in January is just that, our mission statement, along with the idea of ‘excellence.’ I can think of no better example of both of these at play than this new shelter. This place is about sharing the love of Jesus in excellent and, in bitter cold temperatures like these, life-saving ways.
The verse above shows one way of how Jesus showed love. He hung out with folks that the religious elite viewed as ‘riffraff’. He befriended them as equals. We too hang out with and befriend those who have been discarded by much of society. We treat those people with the dignity and respect they deserve both in life and in death.
That’s what we’re trying to do this Epiphany season. No matter what the most powerful politician in the world may have said last week, there are no ‘____ people.’ At THHS we are acknowledging that God’s love is for everyone, not just for a select few. And we are acting on that love for everyone. That makes me proud to be a part of this team.
We are not a team willing to settle for the actual.
We are a team that longs for, hopes for, and works towards the possible.
We continue to strive to be ‘The Hand of God in the Heart of the City’.
You speak to us in many ways,
Even through the bitter cold.
Give us ears to hear You,
Eyes to see You,
Hands to touch You,
Hearts to feel You,
And strength to keep following You,
No matter what obstacles may come our way.