Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Tis the season to remember the homeless in our area.

What child is this? 

The old Christmas carol goes. The standard answer is given as the song continues is “this is Christ the King”, but if one takes the Christian Scriptures seriously there are other answers. In Luke chapter 2, we learn that Jesus was born in shelter for animals and placed in a feeding trough. This was because in an unimportant town far away from the rich, powerful, and entitled, there was no room for them in the local i
nn. So Luke gives another answer to the question of what child is this? It is a homeless one.

In Matthew chapter 2 we learn another answer to the question of what child is this? Joseph is warned in a dream to take up his young family and flee Bethlehem just in time to escape a political massacre with lots of collateral damage. This is known in church circles as the martyrdom of the innocents. So Matthew answers the question of what child is this? It is a refugee from violence.

Tis the season to remember the homeless in our area. Christmas celebrates the Christian doctrine of incarnation, which simply means that God comes “in the flesh”. What does it mean that God comes inthe flesh as a homeless refugee? It means that by meeting the homeless and the refugee you might just meet God. Centrist Christian teaching is clear; in Mathew chapter 25 we learn that besides worship, prayer and bible study we meet God in serving the homeless. This is because Jesus was homeless.

In our area the Elizabeth Coalition for the Homeless, Family Promise, Home First, and Monarch Housing Associates all work to end homelessness in our neighborhoods. By supporting and partnering with these organizations, you can not only help the homeless, but help your own soul as your work together with others to provide hope for our community.

With the high cost of housing in our area homelessness in Union county continues to be an issue for our families and communities. A minimum wage worker in New Jersey would need to work 108 hours a week to be able to afford a rental apartment in our region. We invite you to be part of the solution for your benefit as well as those we are called to serve.

The Union County Interfaith Coalition is sponsoring a Homeless Sabbath the weekend of December 16-18 where houses of worship of diverse faiths in Union County will offer prayers and raise awareness about the plight of our neighbors who need housing. The Coalition will also observe a homeless memorial vigil on the evening of Wednesday December 21 at Holy Cross Lutheran Church in Springfield.

Please encourage your faith community to participate in these events. For if we remember a homeless family every Christmas eve, we should be able to remember our neighbors who live and work among us every day.