God created and loves all colors.
Since the video surfaced a few weeks ago of the shooting of Ahmaud Arbery I have been mulling the deep-seated and long-term racial divisions that still exist in the USA. I spent some emotional days thinking through this and trying to put words to my thoughts. It’s tough work. I commented to Sandy a few days ago that entering into any kind of divisive relationship carries with it the dimensions of spiritual warfare. Now, we are reeling from this tragedy of George Floyd’s death, and subsequent rioting, vandalism, and looting. The enemy of our souls, Satan, looks to steal, kill, and destroy. He’s crafty and does this in so many ways. Sometimes it shows up as “Steal our joy, kill our hope, and destroy our unity.” In the area of racial division, especially between black and white Americans, there have been centuries of fractured relationships. Yes, by God’s grace, there have been pockets of scattered togetherness. In Christ, the middle wall of partition is broken down, and He is our peace. Thank God for healing and the breaking down of walls! That said, there is still such a deep need for healing, and there are more walls to be broken down if there is going to be genuine relationship.
Healing. What does it take for a sick nation to be made well? What does it take for a sick soul to be made well? What does it take for a sick church to be made well? Thank God for the salvation found in Christ alone! That is where healing is found. But even in the church of Christ, there is still division and disunity. We need healing, church. I think it was Martin Luther King, Jr. who said that the most segregated hour in America was the Sunday morning church service. And then we read in Revelation that John saw people from every nation, tribe, and tongue standing before the throne of God and of the Lamb. Most of what I have to say in this post is addressed to white and black Christians. But people of any shade of melanin must turn to the cross of Christ, lay down their lives to love the Lord our God with heart, soul, mind, and strength, and look to love our neighbors as we love ourselves. This “love your neighbor” mandate should move us outside our comfort zones to neighbors near and far. I am not promoting multi-culturalism as a “First thing.” Jesus Christ and him crucified is our first thing. However, I do believe that a by-product of Christ-centered, Spirit-directed living should be an active desire to know and commune with brothers and sisters of other backgrounds and cultures.
I wonder how Jesus would address the “Church in America” if he decided to write a letter? For one thing, there is such a broad range of “church” that he probably would need to address each specific church. Sadly, there is more diversity of sin in the “church” in America than those 7 churches Jesus addressed in Revelation. From where I sit, it seems that the sins of Laodicea are likely the closest to American churches. Listen to how Jesus addresses the Laodiceans regarding their need for healing: "I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot. So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth. Because you say, 'I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing' --and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked--I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich; and white garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see. As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent.”
I don’t have enough money to buy that eye salve. But thank God! He gives eye salve to all who call on the name of the Lord Jesus with repentance, and to those who ask him to open our eyes, so we can truly see. Will you ask him to open your eyes?
We need healing. In Christ, there is healing. He gives eye salve, so we can see. He opens our ears to hear. He opens our mouths, so we can speak. Look at what Jesus does in Mark 7 with the deaf man who has a speech impediment.
“Then they brought to Him one who was deaf and had an impediment in his speech, and they begged Him to put His hand on him. And He took him aside from the multitude, and put His fingers in his ears, and He spat and touched his tongue. Then, looking up to heaven, He sighed, and said to him, "Ephphatha," that is, "Be opened." Immediately his ears were opened, and the impediment of his tongue was loosed, and he spoke plainly. Then He commanded them that they should tell no one; but the more He commanded them, the more widely they proclaimed it. And they were astonished beyond measure, saying, "He has done all things well. He makes both the deaf to hear and the mute to speak."
There we go. Christ makes the deaf to hear and the mute to speak. He gives voice to the voiceless, and he heals the deaf so they can hear. He counsels the blind to get eye salve to put on our eyes so we can see.
Dear Christ-followers, let us stay rooted and grounded in the love of Christ as we move to break down the dividing walls of partition. After all, Ephesians 2:14 tells us that Christ himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility. This passage refers to Jews and Greeks, but could it not be applied to blacks and whites, and any other ethnic division? By the grace of God, we need to enter more fully into the healing that comes in Christ. Consider Hebrews 10, which tells us that Jesus, “After He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God, from that time waiting till His enemies are made His footstool. For by one offering He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified.” In Christ, we have been given eternal life we are counted among "those who are being sanctified." He is our gentle healer.
To my dear black brothers and sisters, I thank God so much for the privilege to share in the communion of saints with you in the family of God. Although I was not around in the 1700’s and 1800’s during institutionalized slavery when there was such a dehumanizing message spoken about black people even in the church, I pray that God would forgive our nation and bring healing to your hearts of the deep wounds that still implicitly and unconsciously lie below the surface. I was not around during the bitter share-cropping years of the late 1800’s and early 1900’s, and I was not present to witness the systemic oppression prior to the civil rights movements in the 1960’s, but those wounds are still a part of our nation’s history. Those wounds have sometimes made some of you put walls up to protect yourselves. And some of those wounds are often there, implicit and unconscious in your shared memory. I pray that, in Christ, we can become like those Jews and Greeks of Ephesians 2, and say together by the grace of God, with celebration that “Christ himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility.”
From my church background in the Mennonite church, most of my brothers and sisters during my first twenty years of living were white, and we have done a poor job of moving into your lives and allowing you to move into ours, with love and grace. Silence has not helped us. We need Jesus to teach us how to speak. We do not listen well. We need Jesus to teach us how to hear. And we need eye salve from Christ, to help us to see. If I can be a part of the healing touch of God that brings healing to the wounds of our nation’s history, please help me to see what I can do. At this point, I have little to say, but I have much to learn. Please forgive me for my ignorance and my often unconscious insensitivity towards you and your feelings and emotions. I have sometimes focused on “truth” and “statistics” and a clinical and forensic view of what I thought was the situation, and I have often failed to hear your heart. Will you allow me to move into your life so I can listen and understand? Will you allow me to open up as well without fear of reprisal? Can we pray together, for each other?
Thank you, heavenly Father, for the gift of Jesus Christ who has entered our world and brings the eye salve to open our eyes. Thank you, Jesus, for entering our world to open our ears to hear. Thank you, Jesus, that you can touch our speech impediments and allow us to speak words of life and not death. Please do that for me and for all of your church in this area of racial division, Lord Jesus. Please open our ears to hear. And please open our mouths to speak words of Your love and truth. Only you can bring healing to the hurting. Only you can make the two groups one and destroy the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility. Please bring full healing, Jesus.
To my dear white brothers and sisters, I thank God so much for the privilege to share with you as well in the communion of saints in the family of God. Please, let us be ready to listen. It’s likely that “ears to hear” is what we need the most. Please, let us come to our Father and ask him to give us ears to hear, from His Word, by His Spirit, and from our brothers and sisters in the black community and elsewhere. May the Lamb that was slain receive the reward of His suffering! God so loved the world, that He gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should never perish, but have everlasting life. Church was never supposed to be a divisive place. This was never God’s will that this be an “us-them” conversation, but for hundreds of years in the USA it was so. The dehumanization of the black slaves, often perpetuated from the bully “Christian” pulpit of the 1600’s, 1700’s, and into the late 1800’s, is something that needs to be repented of and rejected by all of us. Healing is still needed in the black community from the sins done against them, even all the way forward in history here in 2020. And please understand me, I do not support or condone a victim mentality. Many have been able to move forward despite the history. Still, there is a shared identity in the black community that was repressed and dehumanized at awful levels for a long, long time. This could be a generational sin within the white community that WE, the white privileged class, need to condemn and repent of. Please, let us take the counsel of Jesus to apply eye salve so that our eyes will be opened, so we can see. And one more thing, if your knee-jerk reaction to all the past week’s news is “I’m not racist. What’s their problem? Why are they making such a big deal of this?” You are probably in need of some of an extra tube of that eye salve. And I’m not supporting vandalism or looting when I say that.
And to all my dear brothers and sisters of all shades and colors of melanin, I am forever grateful to God for giving me the opportunity to have a foretaste of heaven here on earth by having friends who have experienced the world differently than I have. We each have a story to tell, we each have a culture that has shaped who we are. If we are in Christ, he has redeemed us and brought us back to His throne room where we can approach His throne with boldness so that we can receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.
We are in need, church of Jesus. Let us approach His throne of grace so that we can receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.
I know for certain that the best way forward is in Christ, in humility, with the Word and the Spirit as our guide. I believe, somewhat uncertainly and with a bit of confusion, that I need to deconstruct my cultural background a bit to see what I have been bringing to the table of communion that is not of Christ. My culture can actually keep me from fully engaging with all that Christ has to offer. By the grace of God, let us move towards others who are not of our background and culture. When we do that, sometimes the fishbowl of our culture breaks and we get to understand more of the ocean of God’s mercy. It gets terrifying when we realize our fish bowl was freshwater and the ocean of God’s love is saltwater—but sometimes that just shows that self needed to die more for true life of Christ to rise up. These times of raw anger and exposed hurt are times that Christ can enter with His love and bring healing. The healing may have to begin with our repentance. When Daniel prayed in Daniel 9 “We have sinned” he was identifying with the sins of the nation as he sought the mercy of God. I confess before almighty God that I have sinned in this area of racial healing. There is much more work for God to do in my heart, and by the grace of God He is still working on me. I long to do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with my God and my brothers and sisters in Christ who are black, white, and other.
Will you fast and pray with me this Wednesday, June 3, 2020? We have this pandemic that has struck the earth and all nations are still reeling from its results and the accompanying responses to it. Mass starvation is probably the next "pandemic" we will face. And now we have an opportunity to pray for healing, unity, and deeper relationship between people of color and whites in America, and within the church of Jesus Christ here in America. When we pray, we have an opportunity to fill the prayer bowls in heaven so that God pours out his answers upon His people.
Grace and peace,
Brendan, one of the brothers in our congregation, mentioned to me recently that Jesus fed 5,000 people and 4,000 people on two separate occasions (it’s actually more than that, because those numbers do not seem to reflect the women and children in attendance), and Jesus did not differentiate between those who “needed” and those who could go out and get their own food. Jesus thanked Father, distributed the food, and everyone was fed. So when we give out boxes of food or flats of eggs, we certainly want to get them in the hands of the most needy among us. But the pressure is not so much on us that we have to interview each person and make a judgment call on the needs-based information presented. This was a helpful thought, since there are many people who ask for food boxes and many people who willingly receive food boxes, but the needs vary from extremely urgent to not-so-much.
Are you hungry? You can probably go into the refrigerator or pantry or freezer and get something to eat. And if that’s not there you probably can go to the store or restaurant to buy something. I have never gone hungry in my life, except for those times when I have intentionally fasted. So I think of those right around us who are facing food insecurity and food scarcity, and I pray that we can offer physical food when possible. I also pray for spiritual re-birth for those who receive this food. I practiced some Spanish lines that speak of Jesus Christ and him crucified, and implored the Spanish-speaking day laborers at Home Depot to give their hearts to Jesus as we gave out food to them last Friday. There is a much deeper need than food here—there are souls that are resisting the call of God on their lives, and there are souls that are yearning to know more of their Creator. The food that fills the hungry with the Bread of Life is food that we need to present to those around us. This is soul-satisfying food that leads to eternal life.
Brother Stan is bringing food boxes on Tuesday to the Baychester women and children’s shelter, and to the Eden shelter. As an additional opportunity, the director has said that after this Covid-19 crisis blows over she believes we could host Bible studies at these shelters. We have prayed for the Baychester shelter for nearly a year, and this opportunity has just appeared.
I still believe that the day-laborers and those in the undocumented immigrant community have been affected the most financially here in our city. Next on the list are the small business owners who either could not apply for the small business relief or did not apply it. As the city slowly opens back up, there is still an undercurrent of food insecurity all over. A Blessings of Hope driver who delivered CAM boxes to us on Saturday told us of a food distribution ministry in Long Island to whom he had delivered food boxes. They said that, prior to Covid-19, they were serving about 85 people on the day they gave out food. Now, they are getting over 400 people showing up on those days. Life in Christ Mennonite Church in Queens handed out 800 boxes of food on Saturday, May 16th. They have over 800 contacts who have reached out to them for help, requesting food. Pastor Felix, in Mt. Vernon, has served over 400 families in the past seven weeks as they come through his line for food from the Blessings of Hope boxes. He opens the boxes and distributes food to the people into their bags, this way he can serve more people on the day he gives out food. Our distribution at Edenwald has gone from 20 boxes to 40 boxes to 60 boxes to 85 boxes. We do not do as many deliveries during the week; people are encouraged to come by our house and get a box of food if they contact us with a food need.
Today, weather permitting, we will set up outside of our church space on E. 224th Street and distribute boxes of food to the local community. I look forward to these kind of interactions. This evening at 4:00 p.m., Brother Ike and I hope to set up near his house in Mt. Vernon and offer food boxes to people in his community. May God work in his church and through his church in this time. Food pantries are considered essential services.
As the weeks pass, the intensity of the Covid-19 crisis here in NYC seems to diminish, and we look forward to going out and meeting with people a little more. Last week, the governor opened up religious gatherings to 10 people, and on Friday President Trump made that announcement stating that churches are Essential Services. I knew all along that churches are Essential Services, so that announcement did not come as a surprise. That said, here in NYC it was very wise to stop in-person meetings at churches for those weeks from late March through the end of April. Even now, when I am aching to get back to face-to-face meetings, I recognize that we are all on a journey in this season. Some people will be ready to get back to meet, and some need some more time. An interesting side note—I have talked with several of my African-American pastor friends and none of them are pushing to re-open their churches against the governor’s orders. I think they all recognize that this virus has taken an especially significant toll on the black community, and they are in no rush to try to circumvent local and state protocol. One church, St. Luke’s Episcopal Church located about 1 mile from our house, lost 21 members to Covid-19. I’m sure a church leader facing that kind of mortality rate in his congregation is going to take a wider look at this situation. This is not just about what is allowed by law, but what is safe and wise for the congregation. On that note, I’m seeing about a 60/40 percentage in terms of the law. 60% says to start meeting again (Constitution and President) but 40% (Governor and Mayor) says to hold off on religious meetings with more than 10 people. My percentages are arbitrary and based on mental gymnastics only, so don’t hold me to them. It just shows that in this case, each church is going to have to ask “What is best for us to do?”
This morning, Sandy took a walk with our friend who had a near-death experience with Covid-19 and is slowly recovering. She contacted Sandy this morning and said she has nightmares of her experiences with this sickness, and since she is back from rehab she is still not able to walk well. Pray for us as we relate with this friend. She believes (and we agree) that God saved her from this sickness. So now what would He have for her?
Are you hungry? Take of the Bread of Life, eat, and give away this Bread of Life to others who hunger. Are you thirsty? Drink of the Living Water, and you will thirst no more.
Believers in Jesus Church distributed food boxes again at the Edenwald Community Center on Tuesday. My last update had noted that our neighbor has a friend who was a part of the 90’s rock group Living Colour, and he was going to help us with crowd control. It turns out our neighbor couldn’t get any friends to commit. He sent me a text listing all the other housing projects around us and then said “but Edenwald? Everyone’s asking me if u and ur family are going over there armed with Bullet Proof clothing. " His next text went like this “I asked some of the roughest toughest thugs I know if they would mind helping giving out food with u guys and girls in Edenwald and they all said “Naw man I ain’t messin’ with Edenwald.” I have not seen the dark side of Edenwald yet, besides a few skirmishes two weeks ago. Each person is created in the image of God, so it is a privilege to extend dignity and grace even to groups who may be considered "less than." Joy, the community center’s director, spent about 1.5 hours getting all of them to sign in with their ID’s and gave them each a printed number. Some of them waited in line for over three hours. We passed out 60 boxes of food in less than 30 minutes. We have a portable speaker with a microphone, so I had the chance to preach a short gospel message while Joy was finishing up the list, and our daughter Corinne sang “Do You Know the Savior?” while Sandy and I accompanied her. It's hard to describe how rewarding these opportunities are to me.
I then was able to meet up with Silvia, the contact in Mt. Vernon who has been receiving food boxes at the Doles Center. Silvia is so excited about this food box ministry. She works at City Hall in Mt. Vernon, but she said “I have asked God for years to let me have a food pantry! I never thought I would get a chance to do something like this in this way!” Silvia has had to add two different phone lines since April 1 because of the high demand for food boxes in the senior center close to their location. Mt. Vernon is described by another of my friends who lives there as the forgotten stepchild of Westchester County. If you ever get the vision to explore the difference between Scarsdale and Mt. Vernon, it’s a fascinating study in contrasts. Two cities—two completely different socioeconomic spectrums. I met Silvia through my neighbor’s friend. When I told Silvia that the boxes will be winding down next week and after that it will be seven dollars a box, she actually seemed to get excited. “Wow, I can start fundraising for more boxes!” She was the first person in our network who actually seemed energized by the opportunity to purchase boxes to distribute.
Wednesday, we received a shipment of 1,000 boxes of food from CAM (Christian Aid Ministries). The boxes weigh 20 pounds, and include rice, beans, canned chicken, oil, flour, sugar, and Christian literature. These are good, solid staples. Some of the churches in The Bronx with whom we are partnering have already received some of those 1,000 boxes. Life in Christ in Queens and Followers of Jesus in Brooklyn have received CAM boxes as well.
Thursday, our friend in South Brooklyn received a van load of eggs from Westfield Farms in PA. He asked if we could take some. I think they had 750 dozen delivered to them. I drove down and loaded 26 boxes (390 dozen) of eggs in our van. Life in Christ Mennonite Church in Queens took 16 boxes, and we have already distributed our 150 dozen here in the Bronx. It was so good to see friends from Brooklyn and Queens, mask-to-mask (we don’t do face-to-face yet here). Food pantries are considered essential services in NY.
Friday, Brianna and I went to Home Depot at 4:00 p.m. with CAM Boxes and 37 dozen eggs. I parked the van in a kind of distant parking lot and walked over to four day laborers who were still standing there, hoping a contractor or homeowner would come by with work. “Necesita comida?” Si, si. These guys walked over, and somehow by the time we were finished we had given out boxes to 19 people, and we were done with our eggs. These guys want to work but there are no jobs for them right now. The day laborers are certainly facing tough times.
A man to whom I delivered a box yesterday used to be an Uber driver but when the customer base diminished from the lockdown his mileage went down, and his lease for his car increased. He had to return his car, so he has no vehicle at this point. He has been off work for over a month, and he has three children. He was very appreciative of the food, and he asked me questions from the Bible. It was a good interaction.
There are certainly needs all around us. If anyone is interested in donating to Blessings of Hope (www.blessingsofhope.com) for food boxes, you just put in the comments box “Food boxes for NYC” and you can specify the church to which you want the boxes to go. You can also give to Believers in Jesus Church through PayPal at email@example.com. Moving forward, we are hoping to have a delivery come to NYC every Thursday for the next few months. A forty pound box costs $7. It’s an amazing opportunity.
Remember the meals for healthcare workers that we began bringing in early April? I just pictured doing a few meals a week here and there. The Anabaptist Covid-19 Response team took that to a whole new level and had a team here for five weeks bringing thousands of pre-packaged box lunches to EMS workers and hospitals who were stretched thin during the Covid-19 crisis here in New York City.
Oh, and I want to give a short update on two of our friends. On Thursday, Sandy had a chance to talk for about an hour with our neighbor who had been on the ventilator with C-19 for about ten days. She has come out of this a changed woman. She’s more gentle, and she says that God saved her life. Sandy was so encouraged with the conversation. I spoke with a good friend Thursday evening who also was deathly sick with Covid. He said that on day 10 he was sure he was going to die, but he began rebuking Covid-19 and claiming the blood of Jesus, and it’s like his sickness lifted. He said that he learned a lesson in that time that we have a lot of authority in the name of Jesus. On the same day we had the chance to hear testimonies from two different persons whose C-19 sickness had actually served to strengthen their faith. Testimonies of God's goodness are better than an iced coffee in July.
My writing motivation has lagged recently. On and off over the past several weeks I have had to push back a heavy fog of bad news, face the fact that we still have no church in-person meetings, and look for the good in this season with less face-to-face interaction. Officiating at a funeral last Thursday took a toll on me. Two of my former students lost their father to COVID-19, and I was asked to share some Scriptures at the graveside service at Evergreen Cemetery in Brooklyn. It was raining that morning, but as I drove to the funeral home I thanked God that the rain had stopped. We gathered, eleven of us, at the funeral home, and talked together for a while. We then got in our cars to follow the hearse over to the cemetery. The rain poured down again, and I clenched my steering wheel and prayed and prayed: “Oh God, please hold back the rain. Please hold back the rain. Let them have a graveside service with only a drizzle or maybe no rain at all. Please hold back the rain.” The rain slowed a bit as we waited in line at the cemetery—there were at least four other small burials taking place. When the rain came down hard again, my prayers went up again “Please hold back the rain, please hold back the rain.” Thank God the rain completely stopped when we stepped out of our cars. I need to thank God for his small and big answers to prayer. The cemetery gave us 30 minutes to remember the life and death of our friend, a father of three, a husband of one, and relative to many. At the end, it seemed so cold and formal to exchange elbow bumps. No hugs. I felt helpless watching my former student, a strapping 28 year old man, hugging his girlfriend and his mother and sobbing uncontrollably. That’s when the rain came. I stepped into my car and let my eyes have their own little moment of rain. “Man, I need a drink,” I caught myself saying out loud. Thank God I have never dealt with addictions, because I’m sure that scene would have been a trigger point. I did stop by Dunkin’ Donuts to get a large coffee on the way home. I have to admit, that afternoon it was hard to focus on work.
Crowd control has never been my forte. I’m a dedicated follower of Jesus, but I do not have high marks on my resume for policing unruly groups. Yesterday the group at the community center for Edenwald Housing got kind of out of hand. We had delivered boxes there three times before with no incident, but this last time I guess the word had gotten out, because some people were already standing in line at 11:00 a.m. for the 1:30 p.m. delivery. That’s what the staff told us later. So we arrived and it went downhill rather quickly, because I started reading off names of people we had on our list from last week who did not get a box. Mistake number one. Suddenly there were maybe 10-15 other people who were convinced they were on my list of 19, but try as I might I couldn’t find their names. I gave two boxes to an elderly woman and her 90 year old mother. Mistake number two. Apparently they were in the same household, even though they said they lived across the hall from each other. The fairness doctrine got trotted out by others in line, and the mood of some darkened considerably. Eventually we were able to distribute our boxes of food but we had some emotional battle scars by the time it was over. We talked it over with the staff at the community center and hopefully we have a reasonably fair way to deal with it next week.
This afternoon my neighbor was texting me and thanking me for the two boxes he had received, one to give to a friend who is out of work and whose mother died of COVID-19, and another to give to an elderly couple. My friend told me he has friends who want to help me distribute food boxes. He then sent a photo of a Rolling Stones magazine cover with the rock group “Living Colour,” featured prominently on the front. His friend from Living Colour wants to help us distribute boxes. I jumped on that offer and asked if he can show up at the Edenwald Housing community center next Tuesday at 1:15 p.m. and help me with crowd control. This same neighbor had told me in an earlier text today that “At one time Edenwald Projects was named one of the most dangerous projects in New York. They are wild over there, there’s a lot of drugs, prostitution, violence and abuse going on over there.” But I guess we are in for an adventure next week, because it sounds like Living Colour representatives will be helping us give out some food boxes next Saturday. A historically famous local rock group helping our small church group distribute food boxes at a community center. Who knew?
The Anabaptist Covid-19 response group that has been responsible to bring the boxes up to NYC and drop them off in The Bronx, Queens, and Brooklyn will be winding down their efforts towards the end of May. After that point, Believers in Jesus Church and some other churches here in the Bronx, along with a number of churches in Queens and Brooklyn, hope to continue purchasing food boxes from Blessings of Hope (based in Lancaster, PA) for $7/box and distributing them as God enables us. We need to somehow manage the requests that come in, but that management goal is a moving target. From Saturday evening to last night (3 days) I had 57 individual requests for food boxes. Today alone I had over 30 individual requests, but we are now texting people that they will need to check back in next week. So I’ll probably be sending 90 (or more) text messages in the next three days saying that they will need to try again next week because this week we have no more left. We have nine other churches and two homeless shelters here in The Bronx who are helping distribute boxes. Our Muslim friend has been getting 10 boxes a week from Sandy to distribute to her other Muslim friends. For that group, we go through the boxes to make sure there is no pork. Last week we delivered the boxes to her apartment building and she had seven boxes left in the lobby. Apparently she went up to her apartment to get something and came back down. No boxes. All gone. Sandy asked her if she got mad, and she said “Well, whoever took them must have needed them, but I was sad for my friends who were coming to get their boxes.” Was the box thief one person or seven distinctly different perps? We may never know.
I wonder what a food pantry could look like for our church here in the Bronx, moving forward. I could get excited about doing something like a food pantry if it could be a 1-2 day a week venture. If it got to be more than that, it may become the tail that wags the dog. To develop and manage a good food pantry probably takes days a week for one person, plus hours and hours of volunteer labor. Anyway, this is something to consider.
Our friend who was on the ventilator with COVID-19 has recovered and is out of the hospital, thank God. What’s strange is that she had to go to rehab. She’s about our age, but she had to relearn to walk, and her one hand could not grasp a pen the first several weeks after getting out of the hospital. This a strange new world we live in, folks. She's still at rehab in White Plains, weeks after being released from the hospital.
May God be with us all. We need to pray, praise, love God, love others, read the Word of God, and keep in step with the Spirit. It’s a strange but opportune time to be alive.
I called my Dad today for his 70th birthday. He missed my first call because he said "I was up on a ladder." My brother sent a picture later and there was Dad, standing on a plank between two ladders probably fifteen feet above the floor, finishing a high drywall ceiling. I wonder where I’ll be when I turn 70, if the Lord has not returned and my heart is still beating. I’m reasonably certain I won’t be fifteen feet up on a plank finishing a high drywall ceiling. They don’t make guys like my Dad anymore. He’s a good Pops.