Category Archives: homelessness

Entering as a baby

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This Christmas I’ve been thinking about how surprising it is (if we reflect afresh, ignoring the familiarity of the story) that Jesus did not come as a powerful king with a palace, riches and an army. He didn’t have to enter the world as a baby but he chose to. As I look into the eyes of the babies in my life, I’m struck by their powerlessness and dependency on their parents. How radical and shocking that the creator and king of the universe chose to enter the world like that. Chosing to strip away all power and privilege he had every right to claim, to be a vulnerable baby to an unmarried mother. Born to a family travelling away from home, with no place to stay and then fleeing for their lives, refugees if you like.

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Even as a grown man he was a homeless wanderer, a controversial vagrant who owned nothing and encouraged his disciples to also go out into the world with no bag or possessions. He chose to hang out with people on the edge of society, the people others shamed and rejected. He didn’t do anything to elevate or justify himself in the eyes of others, in fact quite the opposite. He was not a king who dominated people but who chose to serve and invited his followers to do the same. He didn’t demand obedience but invited people to walk with him.

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If we look at Jesus as a person and if he is the exact representation of God as he claimed to be, it gives a very different view of God than if we take our view of God from the fallen and broken groups of ‘religious people’, who obviously and continuously get it wrong and misrepresent His heart, as we all do.

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So I’ve been thinking, for us who follow him and seek to emulate him in our lives, maybe we shouldn’t hold onto entitlements to a steady life, comfort, wealth, people’s good opinions or worldly power/influence. He could have chosen to have all those things but instead chose a life with none of them. That in itself is such a challenge to me. What am I expecting from life and are those expectations consistent with emulating the one I claim to follow?

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Poetry around the table

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Thursday nights are community dinner nights at my church, St Peter’s Mowbray in Cape Town.

Friends and strangers sit together around tables, those with beds to sleep in and those who sleep under bridges or by the train station. Strangers become friends. Community forms. And amidst the struggles and fights, people feel dignity and warmth. We hope.

One Thursday we decided to write poetry and draw with some of our friends and it went down surprisingly well.

I provided prompts for poems and paper and pens and people engaged and shared what they had written.

I am 

– by Maureen

I am a streetwise kid

I feel very sad because I sleep outside

I want a better life

I wonder what will happen to me

I fear death because I don’t know what will happen to my children

I hope to get a better life in the future

I try to become a better person

I believe I can come right

I dream real love will come my way

I am streetwise.

 

I am 

– by Tash

I am me

I feel like the world is my playground

I want peace for all

I wonder what life after death looks like

I fear loosing a loved one

I hope that God blesses all of mankind

I try to stay positive even when things and life seems impossible

I believe that I will reach my goal of making a difference in someone’s life for the better

I dream of a world without violence, hate, greed and destruction

I am someone who believes in change.

 

I am

– by Hassiem

I am lost in the world

I feel happy

I want a good life

I wonder what will happen to me this winter

I fear God, no one in the world

I hope for a better life

I try to get me a home

 

Homeless

– by anonymous

Cold and hungry,

Wet and tired,

Food, more food,

Will help,

Kind people,

Cruel people?

 

Wet Reality

– by Zach Stewart, Aged 14, member of St Peter’s Mowbray

I’ve always liked to believe that

Life is like a rain storm.

And you can stand in the middle,

Shivering, and getting sick from the cold,

Or you can be that “weird” person,

That, in the rain, takes off their jersey,

Accepting the cold

While running on the banks of rivers,

Shouting, “FREEDOM”.

Two options I thought, but,

A forgotten reality too.

That reality sits under the bridge, in the rain

While the swelling river bites at its feet.

It prays for an end

To the eternal cold, but

A gulp

Or a smoke from it’s cigarette,

Between. Each. Word.

It’s heart beats slower

Bum… Bum… Bum…

A banging in the back of it’s head,

Or a voice,

Hollow, and reassuring.

“Drink, drink, drink. The cold will go away…”

 

In between people… Part 2

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After writing my previous post about being an ‘in between person‘, I read a chapter in Joyce Rupp’s book called ‘May I have this dance’ (a book of spiritual reflections which I highly recommend). The chapter  for December was entitled ‘Homecoming’ and opened with this poem and seemed to connect with and further develop my reflections on the subject.

Something in me is stirring;

I think it’s the part of me

that waits in lonely exile

and yearns for a homeland.

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It’s the hidden part of me

that wanders aimlessly,

stumbling in the dark,

crying to be found.

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O God of exiles and strangers

find the homeless parts of me;

guide them toward yourself,

for you are my promised land.

Take the stranger inside of me

and find familiar soil for it.

Keep me mindful of the Emmanuel,

whose sojourn brought a glimpse of home.

Poem: Joyce Rupp 2006