A friend of mine was leaving an office meeting last evening and was getting into his vehicle when he was frightened by an older woman who happened to be passing by the back of his car. It wasn’t intentional. It was just that he wasn’t expecting someone to be standing in the shadows and when she came closer, it was obvious that she was a person who may have been homeless. At first it didn’t appear that was the case – she didn’t have a shopping cart, or a large bundle of stuff that you usually see in the possession of people who live on the street.
But according to what I heard, her hat was held on by a chin strap made of safety pins, as was the front of her blouse and her coat. She didn’t have any money and was trying to get to the post office – a somewhat odd request for someone out late in the evening. But then she explained that the post office lobby was open all night and she could go there to pray and keep warm. She hadn’t eaten in some time and it was obvious that she was in need.
Now at this point, I suspect that some of you are thinking this must have been some kind of scam. That’s what I was thinking as I heard the story. After all, how many times do we get pan-handled or asked for money for something? The strange thing here is that the woman didn’t want any money – just a way to get to the post office. My friend offered her a ride – she accepted. During the short drive, my friend reached into his pocket and emptied his wallet – giving her the $50 he had with him. She protested and expressed concern that he would have enough to get home. He laughed it off and made sure that she took it all.
Now he question here becomes whether the need was real or not. And even if it wasn’t, so what? My friend felt much better for performing the act of generosity and he truly believed that she was in need. It occurs to me that most of the time, we are pleased to write checks, but to actually get our hands dirty and get in the middle of the mess is something we don’t like to do. We are okay with writing checks, but we don’t want to see things too up close and personal. I am proud of my friend this evening and pleased that he reached out to someone in need. It’s a great example for all of us.
The verse for this evening is from the Gospel of Matthew. After a story about people in need, Jesus tells the disciples that whenever they do something for anyone in need, they are actually honoring Jesus in the process. We are told, in Matthew 25:40, “The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.” And that’s exactly what happened last night. My encouragement this evening is that you will also derive divine peace from being the hands and feet of Jesus. My prayer is that you will never have the kind of need that this woman had. I furthermore pray that you will feel the presence of God when you initiate acts of kindness and generosity for the all of humankind. Have a great day in the Lord, grace and peace…