Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Mercy in the Flesh

Tonight I saw justice in the flesh and felt the streams of mercy flowing over and rushing up inside of me.  I went to visit Mercy Church in downtown Atlanta.  It's a community church of people varied in culture, social status and even faith.  They come together as family at this church.  For them being together is worship.  I spoke with a blind Jewish man about justice and faith, and he told me that at Mercy he experienced Christ's love.  He said he didn't believe Jesus was God, but he believes in what Jesus said about grace and love for our neighbors.  When I looked around everyone's gifts were being shared.  I thought I was coming to feed the homeless.  But here at Mercy, everyone comes to give and receive.  The joy is immeasurable in that place.  I watched one woman teaching another how to crochet in circles(I was mystified by the way).  I saw another man offer a gift to one of the volunteers.  He had found this Christmas ornament in a box laying by the side of the road.  He held onto it for a few weeks waiting for someone to give it to.  Tonight, he gave it to this friend.   The gift wasn't offered as repayment for anything, just as a sign to say, "I value you." 

I have grown to hate the power imbalances involved with many social programs where one group is always giving and the other group is always receiving.  It merely reinforces the gaps between those with power and those without power.  This church empowers the homeless as moral agents as they care for one another. I went expecting to serve soup, but instead I was served alongside others. Everyone had their role: washing dishes, singing, serving soup, or just being there.  The only sense of status is found in our common identity as children of God. One guy makes the coffee every time the church is open(he's done this since they started the church) and he made sure to find me a clean mug so I could try it. Nice and strong like I like it.  Strong like the rush of joy I still feel in my blood, just from being with these people and seeing mercy in the flesh.  And I got all this from just hanging out there...didn't get to experience the actual worship service.  They invited me for Sunday's service, and I can't wait!

1 comment:

Claudia Aguilar said...

This is a glimpse of the kingdom of God... thanks for mapping it for me. Love you, friend!