We were milling about in the sacristy, gathering up what would be needed for the first communion service in the community of people who are homeless at the ECC…on a Wednesday night, 530PM, shortly before the Wednesday night supper that usually draws about 100 folks in for dinner at 6PM.
The three of us had a small hum of excitement, anticipation and caution-don’t get-your hopes-up going on inside of us…we walked out into the courtyard…the decision had been made to have the service in the outdoors– in the courtyard-(after months of having a service inside the chapel- we didn’t bring any one to the table from this community)…We set up the table, and began inviting people who had wandered in early for the dinner, and invited them to join us while waiting for dinner to be ready.
God was smiling on us this evening…we had 17 folks who joined us for this service!
When it came time to read the Gospel, I unfolded the printout I’d brought with me and read the Gospel, and planned to give the Homily I’d written… It should be noted that over the previous two weeks, I’d been given advice about doing a homily in this situation- “keep it short!”, “5 minutes tops! ” I was warned, “You know, their attention span is not long…addictions, sickness, mental illness…not to mention the aroma of a home cooked meal coming up shortly that they won’t want to miss”…I admit, I began to wonder if whatever I preached would matter…
As unfolded my short 4 minute homily, I looked at the faces of the people gathered around our little altar- and yes, some were unfocused, in their own thoughts and worlds and conversations with the voices in their heads; but there were a few who were serious about this. They were looking straight at me- I’m not sure what I saw in their eyes…was it hope? was it suspicion? Was it yearning for a life-line? Was it sorrow? Was it pain?
I don’t know.
But at that moment, I gave that short homily all I had– because I believe the Holy Spirit gave me those words to say for a reason- and those words will matter to those who matter to God. Which is everyone, no matter where no matter when, right here, right now.