Today, I had my t-shirt instead of a sign. So I shouldn't get in trouble, right? Wrong. I got in trouble for having a cup with money in it on the floor. However, members who had heard about what I was doing told their friends and people gave me $83 with no sign or cup.
This may be a lot like the homeless individuals who have been on the streets in a neighborhood for a long time and have folks who support them and help them get the food and other things they need for their daily survival.
Yet, it's easy to forget about such things in the midst of such great change. One of the reasons I have called this venture begging for change is because the ELCA's was (as it has been for 20 years) talking about the ability for queer folk to get married and to be ordained. Both passed today. See the New York Times article I'm quoted in.
These issues are connected for me because so many of the homeless in San Francisco are actually from the Midwest. They fled the homophobia (real or perceived) in their communities, only to arrive in the most expensive city to live in and the city with the highest addiction rate.
The homeless called me pastor, during the time when I was unwilling to fight to become a pastor in the ELCA because of the discriminatory policies. My response would be to explain the carefully nuanced stance of the ELCA, after which they would simply nod their head and say: "whatever Pastor!'
Obviously I eventually gave in and became a pastor. And so believing in the priesthood of all believers (and to return the favor) I venture to the streets again and again reminding the homeless that they are pastors too. And even though the church too often only sends pastors to those who can afford them, or can afford a church building, they are very worthy of love and care.
In this my 8th year of working as the Executive Director of WELCOME, I confess that the homeless have taught me more about scripture, faith and humility than I feel I have been able to offer them.
So today I pray for all those who have not yet received the news that they are pastors. I pray for those who did not live to see this day. Good night sweet followers.