Dear Church Families,
Even if I couldn’t see a calendar, I would know that we’ve come into a brand new year: there’s no more Christmas music on the radio, one of the channels on Spectrum is carrying their annual Twilight Zone New Year’s marathon, and Facebook is abuzz with people talking about their New Year’s resolutions. And, sure, the beginning of the year marks an obvious time for making resolutions—basically promises to yourself to make changes in your life. I hope, if you are so inclined, that you are able to make and keep those promises and bring about positive changes in your life—more power to you! (When I’ve made resolutions, I’ve usually run aground by Valentine’s Day—but that’s another story…)
What I’d like to propose this year, though, is that you consider working to make a positive change in some-one else’s life.
Though it can be hard to see, we have a homelessness issue out here in the County. According to a recent article on West of the I, there are at least a couple of hundred people in the County who are not stably housed—either they are couch surfing, in jeopardy of losing their housing, or are “literally homeless” (without a place to stay). These latter people may be sleeping outside, in cars, or in some other environment not thought of as a home. Now, we might say, logically, that a couple of hundred people is just a small fraction of the tens of thousands of people living here—but whether it’s many or few, we must still be concerned about their plight.
We should have no illusions–the “fix” for the homeless situation is complex. For instance, there is a need for emergency housing (I’ve encountered it a number of times in my work as a pastor), but there is also a need for affordable housing, and some who are attempting to address homelessness see that as the central problem: it’s hard to be stably housed when you’re earning minimum wage of around $1200 a month, and your rent is $850—one financial blip (cutback in hours, illness, sudden unplanned expenses), and the situation moves from being precarious to catastrophic.
The good news is that there are people talking about this problem now—but I think the conversation needs to be more comprehensive, more imaginative, and needs to involve even more community members. As Christians in general, living out our call to justice and mercy, we are definitely encouraged to be part of the solution, and I’m hoping that some members of our own church families might feel called to be part of this discussion here in our own back yard.
Right now this is a very amorphous undertaking, but as people become involved, and as we enter into discussion with others in the community, I’m hoping that we can start to fill in the outlines of not just what needs to be done, but how it might be done, and what role we can play in it. If you would be interested in meeting to discuss being part of planning this ministry, please let me know. The best way is to email me, so I can collect names and have a mailing list for communicating when we will have meetings.
I hope you will consider it prayerfully—I am sure that our church family can have an impact on this issue, if we want to.
See you in church—and Happy New Year!
(Earlier A Word from the Pastor messages may be found in Newsletters.)