This blogpost was originally written and posted on my former blog on 7/9/2015, but it feels relevant again, so I’m reposting it here. There seems to be a renewed discussion about ignoring the least of our community, as if this is a new development brought on by a new president. Well, I hate to be the bringer of bad news, but we have been ignoring the least of our communities for much longer than our collective outrage suggests. If we are truly committed, as a people and as a community, to relieving the suffering of some among us, perhaps we start with food, water, and shelter.
Originally written and posted on 7/9/2015
I was in Seattle on a business trip this week and decided to wander around the downtown area to look for a place to eat dinner. I stumbled upon Westlake park and got sidetracked when I saw some people playing ping pong on some outdoor tables next to a Foosball table and several tables of active chess matches. Normally, one would pass right through, but something caught my eye at one particular ping pong table.
There was an intense ping pong game going on between this little boy and a homeless man. I sat and watched them for 30 minutes and then got roped into my own game of ping pong by some tourists from Indonesia. The 60+ year old lady schooled me. I have a feeling she may have been a professional at one point in her life.
I left 3 hours later humbled, grateful, and full, though I had not eaten anything.
As it turns out, the City of Seattle has dropped in ping pong tables throughout the city to try and clean up their parks and rid them of the “creepy people” (their words, not mine). It appears from the photo above that they succeeded in giving people something to do during the day, homeless or not. Did it not occur to them that a homeless guy would enjoy a game of ping pong just as much as the next guy?
What is it about homeless people in a park that deems it unclean or unfit for the “regular” folk. Why are we so intent on limiting any contact or exposure we might have with these people? I wonder what the reaction would be if a homeless guy decided to park himself on a sidewalk in my neighborhood? How long before the police were called and asked to move him to another part of town or to another town altogether? We like to think of ourselves as lovely people when we give a buck or two to the guy standing at the end of the off ramp to a freeway. “Hey, I’m doing my part to end homelessness in my community!”
Perhaps you’ve seen these around your town.
Armrests? Nope. They are there to prevent people from sleeping on the bench.
Our disdain for the least among us is not subtle at all. Perhaps change will occur when we realize that homelessness isn’t a disease we can catch, but actual human beings that need a roof over their heads, food in their stomachs and a way to succeed as members of a community.
Maybe they just want someone to play ping pong with.
The little boy in the picture above taught me a lesson this week. It’s the same lesson that Jesus teaches.
When the Son of man comes again, this time in all His glory, there will be a judgment. It’s not a judgment on how Republican or Democrat we are, or how we reacted or stood up for or against a particular social issue. We are not going to be asked for our financial statements to determine how successful we have been, or how many things we have acquired. It couldn’t be laid out any more clearly than in Matthew 25.