Our city has plenty of homeless shelters and missions, but sometimes they are full. Sometimes folks who could use the help don't like the rules, and would rather find shelter somewhere else.
It doesn't really matter. Huddling in the doorway of a building, trying to sleep on cement when it's freezing....Most of us don't even let our dogs sleep outside.
When a group of would-be disciples enthusiastically told Jesus they would follow him anywhere, he replied: “Foxes have dens and birds of the sky have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to rest his head.”
I see a lot of homeless folks every day. I work only a few blocks from the street where most of the shelters and soup kitchens are. I see people carrying all their belongings in garbage bags, people who stop you and ask for just $1 for a cup of coffee, people lined up outside the public library starting at 8:30, waiting for it to open at 9. At least they will have a warm place to sit for a few hours.
Like most of you, I will go home this evening and put on warm clothes, enjoy time with my loved ones, maybe watching tv or just chatting. I'll pour myself a cup of tea and knit or read. When I am tired, I'll put on pajamas and lie down in a soft, warm, safe bed, with pillows and soft blankets. I will sleep with no worries about being assaulted or poked by a cop and told to move (where??) or simply harassed. I won't worry about being cold and uncomfortable on my bed of cement.
Whenever I see a homeless person, I think of Mother Teresa and what she said about the people she worked with: Jesus in his most distressing disguise.
Pray for the Jesus huddled in a doorway, the Jesus who needs just $1 for a cup of coffee, the Jesus who sleeps his day away on a bench.
Hear our prayer today for all women and men, boys and girls who are homeless this day.
For those sleeping under bridges, on park benches, in doorways or bus stations.
For those who can only find shelter for the night but must wander in the daytime.
For families broken because they could not afford to pay the rent.
For those who have no relatives or friends who can take them in.
For those who have no place to keep possessions that remind them who they are.
For those who are afraid and hopeless.
For those who have been betrayed by our social safety net.
For all these people, we pray that you will provide shelter, security and hope.
We pray for those of us with warm houses and comfortable beds that we not be lulled into complacency and forgetfulness. Jesus, help us to see your face in the eyes of every homeless person we meet so that we may be empowered through word and deed, and through the political means we have, to bring justice and peace to those who are homeless. Amen.