this morning I again had the opportunity to serve breakfast to the homeless and less fortunate through a ministry of the church where the man I’m dating is a member. and for the record, nothing puts one’s own life into glaringly clear perspective like being around people who have far, far less than you.
but this post isn’t about that. what [else] struck me again today was the way these people–our “guests” as they are respectfully referred to–responded to us gays.
this group who arrive at 6:00 a.m. (some earlier) to prepare a full breakfast every Saturday of the year consists of mostly homosexual men. (I think there are some straights–and the last time I helped, there was a Muslim community service group of husbands and wives working along side us with their young sons–talk about amazed!)
the men working the breakfast are so full of joy (the real definition of “gay”)–far too jubilant for this early on a saturday–and take their work and mission very seriously. and by in large they are very gay (in the more modern sense). i say that not out of judgment but to set the stage for my observation: there is no doubt among these guests (who are mostly male), even the new ones, that this is a group of gay men.
and you know what: none of them seem to even notice, or care. yes, they’re there for a warm meal (with pancakes!), milk, juice, and coffee and for some, haircuts and other assistance. but from my observation, they also appreciated the friendliness, kindness, and respect being radiated by the people serving them.
so, apparently, when your stomach is full and someone is being nice when you’re down, sexual orientation doesn’t matter. like…4they didn’t care at all that we were gay.
what a concept.
see, the Jesus i was taught didn’t give a damn about what people looked like. or if they smelled bad. or if they were black, disabled, or a whore. He was kind and loving to them all. that image of his radical acceptance has led me to also believe he would’ve treated gays AND hypocritical Christians the same way–tho he had a lot more to say to the latter group. but i digress.
what remains in my mind after this activity is not the plight or misfortune of the people we served but how they treated us like any other human beings, worthy of respect and fair treatment.
how amazing would it be for Christian peoples to be known for treating people like this! or for political leaders who profess to be Christ-followers to lead from a place of compassion instead of judgment! perhaps instead of so much time in the bully pulpit proclaiming their messages of hate and bigotry, they should come and be among those who have nothing.
THAT is WJWD.
so compelling was this attitude of mutual respect that one Latina who had brought her friend and her 3 young sons inquired how the oldest boy could come and serve alongside these people of this church to help him earn his community service hours toward his own confirmation.
today i gained much more in return than my hands provided to others. you see, among these people who had so little, i felt more accepted than i have in some groups full of religious and/or affluent people.
i dunno: perhaps the lack of judgment I felt was simply a reflection how little judgment i carried in my own heart. (at least i hope that’s part of it.) or maybe these folks just know what it’s like to be treated like they’re less than equal and don’t want to make anyone else feel that way.
either way, i feel extraordinarily blessed to have been among them.