Sunday, January 06, 2013

Shelter Week #2 is Complete.

Renaissance Unity, where I serve as a  minister, has been hosting the Macomb County Warming Center rotating shelter for the past week. We have provided a hot meal, human connection, a warm/dry/safe place to sleep and breakfast to 50/70 people each night. During a week that has been the coldest of this winter season.

Today, we handed off hosting duties to Grace Episcopal, in Mt. Clemens. Our guests have followed the rotation. Shortly after our guests headed out of the shelter, the MCWC trailer rolled out of our driveway loaded with soiled bedding, on its way to the laundry and then on to the next host church.

I am finally awake after an afternoon of napping since I got home from our Sunday service. It feels odd to suddenly "stand down" from Shelter Week related activities. The focus of my life for the past couple of months has been my mom's health, the Services for the Holidays and Shelter Week. Mom is home from hospital, the holidays are now history and we have completed the first of two Shelter Hosting Weeks for this season.

It will take me a while to catch up and process this experience, which has been quite different from our first hosting week last March. I spent more time this week being a pastor to our guests this week. Perhaps I was more available to the role of talking to and praying with people who are looking for hope and direction. Looking for a reason to keep going. Some are wondering if they will ever find a job, or be able to quit drinking or stop using heroin or get the medical attention they need. People wondering if they will ever have a place of their own again. I absolutely know it is possible for all of these things and more because I know and have demonstrated in my own life that with God all things are possible. Now for the how to do it piece. the larger challenge of helping people connect with the services and programs that can really help people break out of homelessness and hopelessness. 

I am so blessed to serve the congregation of Renaissance Unity. Our volunteers allowed Spirit to flow through them into expression as a warm open reception process, fantastic food,  a warm place to sleep and fellowship. Check out the pictures I took, of our volunteers in action.

My heart is full of gratitude for the amazing staff of our church who work tirelessly behind the scenes to support the ministry and for our Board of Trustees and for Rev. Jim & Rev. Sandy, my colleagues. So much love, support and encouragement.

One of our guests asked if I thought our people were judging the guests, looking down on them. He also asked if this was just a "project" for us. I thought about his qiestions and responded, no and no. I shared that we were on a journey of attempting to follow Jesus Christ's command to Love One Another as a way of life.  I asked him if he felt judged or looked down upon and he said no and the reason her asked is he had gotten a bit cynical over the past two years but was still looking for a reason for hope.

We have another opportunity to host the shelter in 10 weeks. Perhaps I will have more guidance for the tough questions. 

After my conversation with this particular man, who was bright, articulate and had a manufacturing background similar to my own, I thought about my faith journey and personal mission:  To experience and express Christ as fully as I can  in every moment of every day.

Then I cried.

Grace & Peace,


(c) Richard L. Beattie 2013, all rights are reserved.