+ In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
You know it’s going to be a doozy of a Sunday when you start things off with the Fall of Adam and Eve. Things just aren’t going great for any of the main guys in today’s readings. Adam is hiding from God because he has consumed the forbidden fruit, Paul is physically suffering and having to remind his Corinthian followers not to lose heart and wander off to other false prophets. . And then there is Jesus whose own family thinks he has lost his mind and are coming to take him home before he ruins himself and them with his disruptive teachings and healings. So how’s your week going? I promise though there is plenty of Good News for us all in today’s readings.
Starting with Paul in his second letter to the Corinthians, the good news is that despite the fact that he is suffering, he still is buoyed by the grace of God and the knowledge that at the end he will reside in the presence of God. Though his earthly body may be decaying, his inner self is being restored and strengthened daily. This passage of scripture reminds me a lot of our guests at Edible Hope. So many seem to be suffering, their bodies decaying in front of our eyes, yet they show up each morning and often have a smile or at least a sparkle in their eye. They have not lost hope. And if they have lost it, God has graced us to provide them with a meal, a cup of coffee, perhaps a listening ear, and maybe a taste of hope to remind them of God’s grace and love for them. For their “earthly tent” may be destroyed, yet they will reside in “a house not made with hands, eternal in heaven.”
It is statements like this one in the Bible that strengthen my faith that the Kingdom of Heaven is not just for the end of time, but for the here and now. And I desire to bring Heaven closer, so that those without physical shelter may find comfort in the House of the Lord. So that those without good nutrition may be fed from the Bread of Life. So that those without proper clothing and shoes may be clothed in the glory of God. And those who are bound would have their shackles released and freedom restored.
It can be difficult to separate the earthly outer self from the inner self. Difficult to not let decay of the outer self, not infect the inner self. Yet, I think COVID-19 has given us all a glimpse into the separation that does exist. While our church doors were shut to the outside world, that which makes us a church, the worship, prayers and service did not shut down. We were shown over and over how our buildings are not what makes us a church. It also doesn’t mean that it isn’t nice to be here, now with actual people sitting here. But that we were free to think of new ways of being together. Finding new ways to worship, new ways to feed our neighbor, new ways to bless and serve. We also have learned what can not be replaced. The best part about being vaccinated, are the hugs. No zoom meeting or virtual coffee hour can replace the hugs we have for so long been avoiding. Nothing compares to being able to sit next to a neighbor unmasked drinking coffee and discussing the world’s issues. There are many things that we can’t wait to bring back to St. Luke’s and Edible Hope as it becomes safer once again to do. But it’s likely that neither St. Luke’s or Edible Hope will ever go back to exactly how it was before COVID 19. Because we have learned, experimented, transformed, and developed new ways of doing good things during this time.
We have additional opportunities to change, develop and grow through our upcoming redevelopment of this property, restructuring Edible Hope as it’s own 501(c)3, and the discernment of another worshipping community designed for the guests, volunteers, and community surrounding Edible Hope uncomfortable with our traditional Sunday worship.
This redevelopment is a way for us to “widen the circle around Jesus Christ” as today’s sequence hymn encouraged. Just as Jesus did not disown his family in todays gospel, but added to it. We also see an opportunity to widen the circle of Edible Hope and our message of beloved community through a shared meal. Because we will need to find another place or way to serve our guests during deconstruction and construction, it opens the possibilities of making large changes to our program to better serve all of our neighbors. Many have asked if there might be a better location for a large meals ministry that has a smaller impact on surrounding homes and businesses? Is there a way to reduce the waste that accompanies our meals program? How might we better serve our guests nutritionally? What other services might we partner with that will help lift more of our unhoused neighbors into housing, addiction and mental health treatment services, and employment? We are excited to research, network and make these changes to grow on the foundation that we have been given while located at St. Lukes. So by Edible Hope becoming our own 501(c)3 we are not walking away from our St. Luke’s Family, just adding to it. We will continue to serve through the power of the Holy Spirit, supported through the gifts of partnership with St. Luke’s.
The redevelopment will also widen St. Luke’s circle of family. It will allow for St. Luke’s to reach out in so many different ways, with new units of affordable housing for very low income families, commercial space, a beautiful worship space to welcome all to the table for the bread of life and cup of salvation.
Let us be confident in the restoring power of the Holy Spirit and the extensive grace and ever widening family of Christ.