Tuesday, September 8, 2009
School is in Session- Part II
There are many things I am learning during my internship in the city at the Pulpit in the Sky. One of the recent facts I learned is that there are 900 homeless children attending school here in the city school district. I cannot even begin to fathom that there are 900 children, some of whom may be the children I see at the free breakfast in Sundays. What kind of a life must this be? To have nowhere that is permanent? To always be on the move? I recently posted about the need for uniforms for school- there is also a need for shoes. Which leads to another fact.
Not every child can attend school because they do not have shoes that they can wear. They may not have shoes that fit, or shoes that are not flip flops. Another obstacle to attending school. What kind of life is this where children need such basics- laundry detergent, personal care products, school clothes, food to eat and shoes? What does it mean to spend your days walking without?
In this week's lectionary, we find ourselves in the midst of Jesus' teachings on cross living-what it means to live and walk in discipleship of Christ. “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel, will save it."
In the extreme this teaching can be about true loss of life. But particularly as we conclude a holiday which honors the laborers, in a nation where we celebrate industry, what does "our life" mean for many of us? We have transformed culturally from a nation where those with the physically demanding jobs, children, and immigrants struggled for decent work conditions, fair wages, reasonable work hours, and limits on how young a worker can be. The labor movement spawned the honor of these people on Labor Day. A day where we honored those whose struggles could have been overlooked by the captains of the industrial revolution. We however, have turned this day into a shopping extravaganza- there are so many circulars for enticements to consume that the paper lies bloated on the front doorstep. And in our own lives at the end of the last summer cookouts and shopping, do we find ourselves lying around a little bloated too? What would it mean to us to consider denying ourselves, to consider losing such a life? What does it mean to walk without, is what we would would be without worth more than what we would gain?
Losing one's life is not about glorifying poverty and want. Instead, "taking up our cross" requires and compels us to see who is in need, and to address the needs of "why." "Taking up our cross" requires and compels us to stand with those whose "life" is not ours and to lift them up. One of the small ways here at TLC we are working to do this is to gather shoes. Shoes for the 900 pairs of feet that need them so that every homeless child has a new pair of shoes for school. Not just because they need shoes, but also because we all get joy and dignity when we are treated like equals, not cast aside.
In two weeks we will present shoes and money for shoes at the altar so that others may gain a little life, dignity and equality. May these shoes bless the lives of those they touch. May this living teach and inspire us to the many other ways we can continue to walk in the path of cross living.