Tonight, New Years Eve, a dozen or so of our homeless neighbors will make their home at First Baptist McMinnville, Oregon. Danny Browne and company will turn on the heat, set up the cots and provide a safe place for guests to get a good nights sleep.
The truth is that too often the homeless are invisible, their names unknown and stories untold. But at the winter shelter these boundaries are transcended. Names are known, bread broken, stories shared. For that night we are all fellow travellers, finding a shared place to call home.
Centuries ago, Saint Benedict founded a monastic community based upon the principle of hospitality. Benedict believed that each homeless guest could be the Christ in disguise. To turn away the stranger, to neglect a person in need, was to turn away Jesus himself. Benedict believed that to welcome the guest was a form of communion with God.
This is all to say that what happens at First Baptist and countless other churches and shelters is a spiritual act. Jim Wallis who leads a faith-based community in Washington D.C, in response to the need that is in every community, says “we are the ones we’ve been waiting for.”
We are the ones who can make this world a little more hopeful, a little more hospitable, a little more just. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. As we enter into this new year, this is good news indeed.