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October 2, 2014, 11:36 AM

Welcoming the Invisible People

30There were two blind men sitting by the roadside. When they heard that Jesus was passing by, they shouted, ‘Lord, have mercy on us, Son of David!’ 31The crowd sternly ordered them to be quiet; but they shouted even more loudly, ‘Have mercy on us, Lord, Son of David!’ 32Jesus stood still and called them, saying, ‘What do you want me to do for you?’” Matthew 20:30-32

A friend of mine recently told me about a homeless man that she used to see on her way to work.  He sat near the busy subway entrance that she used every day; and people dropped change in the can he set on the pavement in front of him.  People never spoke to him and seldom looked at him or acknowledged his presence.  My friend felt bad that she couldn’t offer much financially, but she realized that she could offer conversation.  So one afternoon, on her way home from work, she sat down with him and introduced herself and asked about him.  He shared his story, about losing his job, and his wife leaving him, and finally not being able to pay the rent. 

He told her about the network of homeless people who took turns begging at various places in the city.  They established a rotation so that the “choice” locations were shared fairly. 

My friend continued to stop and chat with him every week until she moved out of the city.  She described him as a “regular” guy, and she realized that many people are only a few paychecks from homelessness.  Because she no longer passes that way, she doesn’t know what became of this “regular guy” who became an “invisible man.”  

The gospels have many stories of “invisible” people.  The widow with her offering of two copper coins, the Samaritan woman at the well, the lepers and blind men that Jesus healed, the paralytic who was lowered through the roof to Jesus, and the man with a withered hand begging at the temple were all “invisible” people in the society of the day.  Because of their poverty, illness, or disability these people were disregarded, marginalized, and reduced to begging for their daily bread.  In the healing story at the beginning of this article, the crowd following Jesus considered these two beggars a noisy nuisance.  Jesus’ disciples considered the children people were bringing to Jesus a bother.  But Jesus saw the “invisible” people, conversed with them, sometimes healed or blessed them, always treated them with respect, and invited them to join his little community of disciples.  All through September, we have focused on the faith practice of hospitality.  We have read stories of Jesus and the early church welcoming, baptizing, and including the marginalized – the invisible people.

On October 12th, we will have an opportunity to meet two invisible people, when Logan Singerman and friends, from “Hands on Hartford,” join us to share a presentation: “Faces of Homelessness.”  We will hear one of the stories in worship and a second during the coffee hour presentation.  There will be time for questions and conversation about homelessness during coffee hour.   Please come and stay for the coffee hour presentation.  It will be eye-opening.

Blessings, Pastor Cheryl

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