I pray you are blessed and warm as you gather with family and friends this Christmas Season. I also pray you will take a moment to consider those who are homeless, cold and hungry.
Grace in Action is a faith based community ministry offering spiritual companionship, rest and respite and helping referrals to our homeless guests. We offer both physical food and spiritual food to those who are hungry in Yolo County. Our “ministry of presence” offers our homeless guests the bread that feeds the spirit. More than anything else, our guests are hungry for love, compassion, and acceptance.
This hunger was most evident to me on one of our recent outreach days. In addition to our open days at Grace House, we provide outreach on Tuesdays to homeless guests who may not be able to access our resources. One Tuesday, I came upon a homeless man who seemed beaten down by weather and hard times. As I approached him, I took his hands in mine and warmly greeted him. I was surprised by his response. He seemed to gasp as he said, “Oh!” and started to pull away from me. It wasn’t until later that I discovered the reason for his behavior.
The shelter staff member partnering with me that day informed me the man had a contagious skin disorder. Suddenly I realized why he had been so startled when I took his hands in mine. He had not been greeted warmly like that in a very long time! It was then that I recalled the story of Jesus touching the leper as he heard the echo of voices around Him, “Unclean! Unclean!” By God’s amazing grace, I was not worried or concerned in any way after I greeted this man. Instead, I felt the deep longing of a man who hungered for the kind of bread Jesus spoke of.
My homeless friend wasn’t hungry for turkey or dressing or warm pumpkin pie. No, he was hungry for love, acceptance and compassion. He was hungry for the kind of bread Jesus instructed His disciples to serve on that crowded hillside when He said, “YOU give them something to eat.” I believe Jesus was telling His disciples to feed the hungry crowd more than bread. Jesus wanted them to be fed by Love.
My visit with this homeless man reminded me how often our guests are called “unclean” as they are shunned and ignored by society. Today, just as long ago on that crowded hillside, many are gathered around us who are hungry for more than bread.
Yes, Grace in Action provides our homeless guests with physical food prepared and served by faithful volunteers. But we feed them more. We remind them they are loved. We touch and greet the people society considers unclean. We welcome those struggling with the disease of addiction, we lift up the discouraged and downhearted and we gather the weary into a warm place of rest…and together, we feast at the table of God’s Love.
We are grateful for your prayers, partnership and support of the ministry of Grace in Action.