Romantics for the Poor

This last Saturday morning I ran into my friend, Reverend Liv Larsen Andrews, the pastor at Salem Lutheran Church on West Broadway in Spokane. She had a slightly discouraged countenance, which I will say I rarely see in her. She is normally one of the truly bright lights in our city. 

The reason for the serious look was because her church took on the momentous project of providing a “warming center” for the poor this winter. Because of this brave commitment, several taxing complications have emerged that they had not completely accounted for. If you want to know what they are, you might want to invite her for coffee to hear the full story. We laughed together about the idea that we both romantically insert ourselves in challenging situations and then collide with the reality of it afterward. I told her I appreciated that she was a partner "romantic for the poor."

If we actually knew the full cost of caring for people, we might never do anything. Our naiveté is, in some ways, a gift. 

One of the things that most people know about me is that I am a brooding sort. I can often be taken into dark places concerning the pain and suffering in the world. Even this last week, the tragic and grotesque act of terrorism that sent 49 people to their death in New Zealand made my heart quake under the heaviness of our broken world. The gravitational pull, if I am honest, is toward hopelessness. It feels like the world is going to straight to hell, and in many circumstances, the church seems to be an accomplice to that mission. Sorry. See how cynical I can get?

We are literally bombarded with tragic stories daily, and if we do not pay close attention to our own souls, we can succumb to the notion that there is not another story. We can become both hopeless and immobilized.

I find that the only way that I can stay upright and buoyant in the middle of so much challenge in the world is to "preach the gospel to myself." I have to preach the love, compassion and hope of Jesus…to myself. If all I let into my heart and mind are the stories of darkness and brokenness it can become debilitating, but by preaching another narrative, the narrative of the Gospel of Jesus that opens the door to reconciliation, that comes rife with real-life hope, I can move forward in a way that stays with all of that which is hurting. I need to remind myself that Jesus died and rose again to check and even destroy the brokenness in our world (Ephesians 2:13-15). And, He will in time, complete his story by healing all things (Revelation 22:2). That narrative keeps me in a place of activism, even if it is romantically started. We are plunged into the greatest love story ever imagined, the divine romance. Just like my dear friend, Liv. Just like hundreds and hundreds of other friends of mine who care for those who are disenfranchised and hurting. 

Romantics for those who are broken in the world – that’s the company I want to be found in.