Grace to you and peace from God our Father and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.
Paul starts his letters in this way. I take a nod from him, like so many preachers, and use these words to open a sermon. It sets the stage for the words of Good News.
Grace and peace.
I have been pretty quiet on the events that have occurred recently. So much has been written, I’m not sure I would add much to the discussion.
I will tell you what I believe.
I believe in grace and peace from God our Father and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. I believe that this grace and peace can only be received in community. I believe that we can only change what happens in our communities through the everyday interactions we have with one another.
We didn’t get to our current location on Payne Ave until a few months into the food truck church adventure. It was about June when we settled on that spot.
Over the first weeks and months, people didn’t smile. They didn’t really talk to us much. This is understandable. Too often, there are strings attached to meals and community on the street. Trust takes time to be earned.
It also takes time to earn trust when you are a white woman in a clergy shirt in an area that has a large African American population.
And then, over time, something happens.
“Pastor! I’m so glad to see you, God is so good and please pray with me.”
“Pastor! My son is going to jail, please, pray with me.”
“Pastor! I’m going to the doctor today, please pray with me.”
And then, this moment,
“Hey, pastor, I saw you walking down the street. I wanted to say “hi”, but I wasn’t sure if I should.”
“You can always say “hi” to me! I would be happy to see you!”
“Really? Thank you.”
Let me tell you, I don’t think the thank you was simply for the food. It was a thank you for relationship.
And let me tell you this, relationships are work. It takes time and energy to get to know one another. It takes time and energy to remember that God is at work in each person we meet. And it takes time and energy to respond in grace and peace.
But the pay off is this: the smiles we see each Thursday weren’t there the first weeks we parked the truck. They were earned over time as we consistently and lovingly showed up.
I believe the horrible things change when we show up in love and we consistently show up.
You see, Jesus showed up. Alot. He was always showing up in places that needed some love. Sometimes it was tough love, but he showed up. And, he called us out and said, ‘you need to show up, too.’
Our job is to respond to God’s call to show up and live in love. Our job is to do the work of relationships with one another.
This is what I believe. This is what being on the street for a year has taught me. Showing up is much of the work. And the grace and peace comes when we show up.
Keep hope alive, dearly beloved!