"The poor you will always have with you, but you will not always have me."
~ Matthew 26:11
This morning I passed a familiar street corner in downtown Houston. For nearly six years I served a church just blocks away from where I took this photo. Years ago the Metro bus system for the city of Houston, at the request of the homeowners in this particular neighborhood, asked that all the "covered bus stops" be removed so that the homeless would not have a place to sit.
It was hard to watch people stand in all kinds of weather waiting on public transportation.
Just recently the covered bus stops have once again appeared, and along with that, a place for the homeless to rest out of the elements. I don't know how to address how I feel about these images.
Living in today's world as a Christian can be challenging to say the least. In the back of my mind I am reminded that the "poor will be with us always," while also the words, "woe unto you who saw and did nothing," enter my thoughts as I look upon these images.
There was a time when I took this to heart, and resulted in actions. About the second time that I showed up to a meeting without shoes, because I gave my shoes to a homeless person knowing that I had another pair at home, and my daughter giving me a pair of shoes one year for Christmas and being told, "These are your shoes, and I don't want you to give them away," I realized I was taking this to a level that wasn't seen as a healthy response. At the time I was fine with doing this, but it was not the image that others wanted to see. While Jesus became poor and lived among us, we don't not want to be reminded of this.
When I consider the things of this world, and of church, I realize the poor exists in both places. The poor can be very close. The poor can also be ourselves, feeling unloved, rejected, abused, or ignored.
Poverty can be seen and experienced in many ways. In our own hearts, sitting on the bus stop at the busy street corner, and in ways too many to even begin to address.
Poverty exists as we admit our brokenness in a world where we need to forgive one another, heal our wounds, acknowledge out doubts, and surround the table where Jesus meets us broken and poor as well. In many ways, when I encounter images like these, I embrace Jesus in a way that allows me to see that Jesus is present.
It doesn't always bring comfort to my own spirit, or for those that I see. I suppose it is a struggle that will always remain.
Stay in God's grip!
G. Todd Williams (c) 2019
Rev. G. Todd Williams lives in the Houston metro area and is a Hospice Chaplain at Essential Hospice, Webster, Texas, and is an ordained Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) pastor.