I can’t get this image out of my mind. This week Centenary UMC’s church property had a break in at 2:30AM which was caught on video surveillance. The man broke in to our property and went to a kitchenette and took a small bag of Doritos, stood there and ate them and then left. He was in our property for a total of 4 minutes. Walked right past other items of value and ignored them completely. A bag of chips.
It breaks my heart. Yes, it is highly annoying to have to clean up a mess and deal with the inconvenience of damage to property. Yes, it is frustrating to be a place that offers help and good will to people and then feel violated by intrusion. I didn’t recognize the picture of the person that broke in and I certainly don’t know his story. But it breaks my heart that he went through that much effort for a bag of chips.
It is a stark reminder to me that we have much work to do in our community regarding poverty, homelessness, hunger, mental illness and addiction. I realize just writing this blog runs the risk of putting some folks in my church in an uncomfortable position of tension with anyone who would choose to damage our property and the ministry we offer. It makes some folks leery of taking the risk of doing the hard work of reaching out to some of the least of these. But I can’t get the image of the bag of chips out of my mind.
And I stand by the conviction that as a church, we have to find a way to stand in solidarity and loving partnership with Jesus’s Gospel mandate. We are to be about Matthew 25 kind of ministry that feeds the hungry, clothes the poor, visits the imprisoned and sick, and welcomes the stranger. In spite of the fact that it comes with a risk. In spite of the fact that it is hard work. In spite of the fact that it sometimes is not necessarily well received by the recipient. In spite of the fact that it comes at a cost. We do it for the Gospel of Jesus. We do it because we love one another.
“Then the king [Jesus] will reply to them, ‘I assure you that when you have done it for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you have done it for me.’” ~Matthew 25:40 (CEB)
Grace and Peace,