July 10

Learn to do good; seek justice, rescue the oppressed. Isaiah 1:17

 

Remember those who are in prison, as though you were in prison with them; those who are being tortured, as though you yourselves were being tortured. Hebrews 13;3

I have lived in downtown Minneapolis for many years and have watched the   landscape change fast. New apartments, condos, and office buildings going up over night. Old buildings being renovated into something new and hip. But the one thing I have noticed in particular is the begging downtown has increased. It is sad and disturbing.

Discussing their situation with others has provoked a variety of responses. Some tell me there is no need for people to beg and that there is welfare to help those in genuine need. That argument does not convince me. One does not live on welfare, assuming one is even eligible for it in the first place. By the end of the month, parents are barely feeding their kids, and not eating themselves. 


Now I do not rule out the possibility of there being people begging who don’t really need to beg, but they would be the exception rather than the rule. Likewise, there is the occasional person on the street that makes demands with menaces, but it would be very unfair of us to dismiss them all because of the misdeeds of a few. Most people I have seen had their heads bowed in shame. While some emotional states can be easily faked, it is very difficult to fake abject despair and humiliation. 

We need to remember we are all created in God’s image, and the gospel makes it clear that when we give food to the hungry, refresh the thirsty, welcome strangers, clothe the naked, care for the sick and visit prisoners, we do this for Christ. 

If Jesus was in Minnesota this week, we would be lucky to see him in our churches. I think he might visit and make a few pithy observations, but he would not stay because he would have things to do elsewhere. You would be more likely to find Jesus on the fringes, ministering to the poor and the marginalized. You might see him at an AA meeting, at a soup kitchen, or sitting with the homeless on Nicollet Mall. 

Lord God, you sought me, rescued me, and taught me. You joined me in my prison cell and helped me see life in your eyes. I am sorry that I can get caught in my own pain yet show no compassion for the pain of others. Teach me how to do good for others. Amen. 

Peace,

Susan Hanson

(P.S. This is a repeat devotion. I feel it needs to be said again. Peace.)