Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Loving our neighbors

An excerpt from our vicar's sermon, on Sunday August 21st (10th Sunday after Pentecost).

What does it look like for us to love our neighbors as ourselves?

These questions are difficult for any Christian community.

One of our callings at St. Joseph’s seems to be engaging the needs and lives of our homeless brothers and sisters in this neighborhood.

We share breakfast now Monday through Saturday with those who are hungry. This past week we averaged over 30 people at breakfast daily.

Two weeks ago one of our homeless neighbors who sleeps on our property because he feels safe being on the church grounds was hit in the head while he slept, and due to the care of another homeless man, he made it to the hospital in time to save his life.

How do we, as a community of faith –

a ragged bunch of rocks held together by God’s grace –

provide a welcoming place for all,

where people of all walks of life are honored as God’s children and not abused?

How do we create and promote a community in which all present our bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, not marred by drugs and violence?

The answers to these questions are difficult.

Living in community is challenging as we try to honor one another.

Next Sunday, August 28th, following fellowship time after church, whoever wishes will gather in the parish hall to have a conversation about what I have no other name for than “rules for behavior” for all who gather at St. Joseph’s in any capacity.

Your vestry has been having conversations with local social service agencies, our homeless neighbors, the Durham police department, local businesses and members of the congregation to try to come to understand ways we might be able to curb illegal and violent activities on our property. Next week we invite your insights, thoughts and conversation. Our discussions will be ongoing.

As rocks as jagged as Peter – one moment boldly proclaiming Jesus as Lord and the next denying him utterly – we will make mistakes but I hope that we will also hold each other accountable to the Kingdom, living into forgiveness and grace.