Friday, October 24, 2008

Day Seven: October 24, 2008- The Lord Be With You

"The Lord be with you," he said.

Then he continued to recite the communion liturgy as he swigged his beer, and smoked a hand rolled cigarette. He said he learned everything he knew about church from Phyllis, "you know, from St. Francis.". Then it hit me, I'm his pastor. Not only because I am a missionary to the poor, but because, as he says, "I was the first homeless person to ever become a member of St. Francis."

Phylis touched his heart.

We met while waiting for dinner at UN Plaza. We heard there would be food. Soon, the manna truck arrived. We wanted food, but we also saw they had socks and toiletries we could use as well. So we thought we wait and see what happened next. A jesus rock name changed a couple of songs to have words about stomping out the devil. Them the sermon came telling us about Jesus' dominion over everything, calling us to have dominion over everything... If we believed. They also said that if we had Jesus we wouldn't have addiction and that of we got saved, we would have power.

I appreciate the hope and the comfort they were bringing to people who had little to hope for. Four participated in the altar call. But after an hour it really felt like we were being held hostage and could only get food if we let them touch us and pray over us. We got food, the most disgusting of the trip to date (note in the picture on the left that they actually gave me a partially eaten cookie!). At least I got a pair of socks out of the deal. My feet really needed it!

Services like there are one of the biggest reasons why it is important for me to talk about faith with the homeless. When the only people ever talking to them about God(dess), are only out to shame them and tell them that everything bad that has ever happened to them is because of their lack of faith. It's a spiritual abuse of power!

After the service the sharing of goods and toiletries was out of control. Some homeless people got four bags each because the kids handing out the bags never bothered to look up, so they didn't even notice. Meanwhile most people didn't get anything. Maybe that was because of their lack of faith too.

So on this, the last night I sleep on the cold hard concrete, I remember Robert who created communion with me, without bread or wine or socks. I remember Phylis and the folks at St Francis, who called me, never knowing that the seed of faith they planted would minister to me tonight on these streets.

Blessings to all of you who have been following by journies on the streets and praying for me. And all you San Franciscans, please make a fuss when the city and the Chronicle try to tell you that the shelters emain empty and the homeless won't accept help. Don't let them close more shelters this year. Let's find out why seniors and disabled individuals don't have access to the shelters. And let's solve homelessness, one person, one sidewalk and one city at a time.

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