Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Thanks be to God!

"I give thanks to my God at every remembrance of you, praying always with joy in my every prayer for all of you, because of your partnership for the gospel from the first day until now." Philippians 1:3-5

Thanks be to God for all those who have faithfully served in this ministry over the past two years. There are so many loving and generous people who have stepped out to be the hands and feet of Christ for our brothers and sisters in need. You know who you are. You know in your heart how the good Lord has changed you. Yes, there is much more we don't know: how many countless brothers and sisters have experienced change through the power of God in us. How many have experienced mercy, compassion, forgiveness, repentance, joy, HOPE because someone took a step to meet them where they are.

You have given of your time, talents and treasure for the kingdom of God.

You are the owners of Crane Dance Farms donating over 100 pounds of organic meat this past year for nutritious soup and brats. You are the friend from Carhartt donating hundreds of socks, gloves and hats to help people stay warm. You are the women donating proceeds from your business to help supply the food. You are the friend sitting at home crocheting blankets of love and warmth for those sleeping outside; the kids making blankets and coloring pictures of joy on lunch bags. You are the families handing out job listings, Bibles, rosaries, prayer cards. You are family and friends who have sent money for food and bus passes. You are adults and youth in homes and churches across our community who have faithfully given many hours preparing sandwiches, soups, meals, fruit, desserts, lemonade and hot chocolate, many hours praying, many hours joyfully serving and listening in the heat, the rain and the snow, hours purchasing and sorting used and NEW clothing... You are the homeless and the jobless who pray with us, help us carry all the supplies to and from the park each week, and minister to your fellow men and women from right where they are as children of God... The list goes on and on.

More importantly, together you have all been faithful to Jesus' commandment in the 25th chapter of Matthew's Gospel.

"For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me.' Then the righteous will answer him and say, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? When did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? When did we see you ill or in prison, and visit you?' And the king will say to them in reply, 'Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.' Then he will say to those on his left, 'Depart from me, you accursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, a stranger and you gave me no welcome, naked and you gave me no clothing, ill and in prison, and you did not care for me.' Then they will answer and say, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or ill or in prison, and not minister to your needs?' He will answer them, 'Amen, I say to you, what you did not do for one of these least ones, you did not do for me.'And these will go off to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life."

I have heard numerous stories of sorrow from people on the streets. Yet, I have heard MORE stories of hope because of people's decision to get off their couch and out of their comfort zone to meet brothers and sisters in need - not only in this ministry but in various ministries around Grand Rapids. God uses our brokenness to show His strength. Only He knows the depth of His love that has been shown and received. Every one of us are links in God's chain on the road to eternal life. Each link is important. When He calls, we must answer. If we do not, then the body of Christ - the church - will suffer as we can see in happening in our world today. Our loving God allows suffering, but He does not make us suffer. We do that by our refusal to know, love and serve Him.

The kingdom of God IS at hand, and our Father has called us to be His hands, His feet, His voice at this point in time to bring the Good News to those around us for conversion of hearts and souls.

Clearly, God gives the grace of conversion. In a manner of speaking, we are just the sales people. Still, we must witness in love to the Word of God and let God do the rest. Thank you, again, to everyone who has given - even those across the globe who contact me with your prayers.

“Christ has no body but yours; no hands, no feet on earth but yours. Yours are the eyes with which He looks compassion on this world; yours are the feet with which He walks to do good. Yours are the hands with which He blesses all the world. Yours are the hands, yours are the feet, yours are the eyes, you are His body. Christ has no body now but yours; no hands, no feet on earth but yours. Yours are the eyes with which He looks compassion on this world. Christ has no body now on earth but yours”. – St. Theresa of Avila

May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you today and in the coming year. May you grow in charity towards one another and towards all people.