If a brother or sister is naked and lacks daily food, and one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace; keep warm and eat your fill’, and yet you do not supply their bodily needs, what is the good of that? (James 2:15-16)
What makes me happy and cozy (snow outside, warmth inside) means stress and humiliation for others (no heat + burst water pipes + power outages = moving everyone to a warming center) not to mention what it means for people are not paid on “snow days” when their offices and businesses are closed.
I’m struck by the fact that 100% of the PADS sites* in my South Suburban Chicago area are church buildings. This means that Every Night of the Week, houses of worship are open to welcome homeless men, women, and children for meals and a safe, warm place to sleep. Some of these church buildings have laundry rooms and showers.
This, my friends, is why churches have buildings. They are tools for ministry.
While many castigate the efficacy of Institutional Church and/or Mainline Denominations, the congregations that offer their space in our area include two Evangelical Lutheran congregations, three Community Churches, two Presbyterian Church (USA) congregations, a Mennonite congregation, an Episcopal congregation, five Roman Catholic congregations, and a United Methodist congregation. Those who stay overnight are considered and treated as favored guests.
Imagine a world in which everyone who – not only steps foot in a church space but encounters a follower of Jesus (thus creating Church Space) – experiences “warming.” Physical bodies are warmed – but also spirits are warmed, cold hearts experience a little heat, compassion is ignited, a fire is lit under the indifferent.
Imagine the church being a warming center beyond setting up coffee pots and cots. Sweet.
*PADS = Public Action to Deliver is a shelter program
Image source here. Interesting story.