Key Word:- GIVE
Title:- Saturn and The 7/11 Store
Matthew 26:11 For you have the poor with you always, but Me you do not have always
I was investigating an area for a possible church plant. One of my tasks was to try and look at the community from every possible angle. See it in all its different shades as it were and so that particular night I was out cruising with my camera.
The 7/11 Store was open, so out of the darkness I pulled into the parking lot in front of the store's bright and inviting lights and there was Fred. Off to the far right the leather skinned full-bearded and dirty castaway was skulking in the shadows. I stayed in the car and watched. As the people came and went, he would wait for a lull in the consumer traffic before walking out of the shadows like a feral cat towards the trash can where he would quickly claw and rummage through the surface layer of garbage, pick up some kind of morsel and then retreat into the shadows to examine it and eat it. He would do this until he was satisfied that the trash can had been fully trawled. Thus satisfied, he would move on to another store and another filth ridden trash bin.
Now, out of the car and in the store I saw Fred slip quietly off the scene and disappear into the shadows whilst I purchased a hot drink and some food for him. I came out and walked to the rear of the store and sure enough, there was Fred, now trawling the larger garbage bins.
After his initial suprise at somone following him around with a hot drink, with thanks, blessing and prayer, the food and drink were gratefully received. There wasn’t much conversation. Fred ‘crossed’ himself and looked up indicating at least some former contact with an orthodox church, for Fred was a former eastern block immigrant who didn’t speak much English and on top of that, it was evident that Fred was mentally ill. It was only a matter of time when someday soon, someone else would find Fred, but this time he would be dead.
In lands of plenty, the poor are still with us and the pain of it, the pitiful presence of it, still quietly lingers like the smell of sour meat, around trash cans late at night. I thoroughly believe that how a nation treats its ‘down and outs’ is indicative of its level of compassion. How we treat the one lost sheep is truly indicative of how we shall in the end treat the other ninety-nine. To me, there appears to be but four options for our rich nations regarding the pitifully poor.
1. Eradicate them,
2. Ignore them,
3. Hide them or
4. Help them.
The last one should be the only Christian option and the resources needed to do this will be enormous.
Maybe we should consider that the poor are God’s outrageous gift to the rest of humanity? Maybe they are a sad and ever present picture of the true spiritual state of every fat cat and comfortable kitten curled up in front of a warm fire or a cold air conditioning unit? Maybe they are there, to always call forth selflessness from our utterly inbred selfishness? Maybe they are there, to embarrass our wallets and cause us to examine our spending programmes, after all a few hundred billion dollars on a space programme and a few thousand smart bombs, means we can know and see exactly where we choose to rain down vengeance upon our enemies and then watch the destruction via satellite in glorious Technicolor! Ooh and while I am talking of satellites and talking of glorious Technicolor, let’s face it friends, most of us church-goer's know more of the conditions of Saturn’s rings rather than the conditions behind the 7/11 on Johnson Street, on any street, on your street.
Maybe the real mentally ill aren’t just trawling the trash cans of our major cities? Maybe many of them are in various positions of leadership? Now there’s a thought!
Listen:- He who gives to the poor will not lack, But he who hides his eyes will have many curses. Proverbs 28:27
Pray:- Lord the need is so great that alone we cannot help to meet it. Lord help us heap up blessings on ourselves, our communities and our nation by giving to the poor. In right ways, teach us how to do this O God, in Jesus name we pray, amen.