Year B - Pentecost +21 or Energy to Witness 21
October 18, 2015
“You stretch out the heavens like a tent.”
I have just begun a half-time position as pastor of a congregation that has been declining in numbers. Those left have a commitment to the community. For decades homeless people have slept under the large bushes in front of the building. This past summer the church became a bit more proactive and, with agreed upon rules, allowed tenting in their “Grace Space”. The tents go up at twilight and are down by 8 am.
As might be easily imagined a complaint made its way to the city authorities. Without talking with us they sent a letter to cease and desist, claiming we fell under their campground ordinance. Well, we are still talking without trying to further inflame the situation with a confrontation of moral vs legal arguments.
This has made me sensitive to the ancient tenting tradition of YHWH during and after the Exodus. Now, seeing the tent image used to include all of creation, it is important to again set boundaries that the indigent/homeless are not flooded out by polite society and made further invisible.
The county has a contract with a local crematorium and they have gone above and beyond the call of duty to contact us about doing memorial services for the homeless that they cremate. We have agreed and our first memorial service is tomorrow. Word has gone out through the homeless community and we wait to see what the response will be.
And so, a tent to cover all the creatures of the earth. Under this tent there is no lording it over others. Under this tent we take our moment and add it to the moments of others to honor those who have gone before and to pass on a healthy earth to those who follow after. Under this tent we live, and we move, and we share our being.