“a poor man in vile raiment”

Andrew at ‘The Music Box’ has a very fine post about the church’s response to street people who might wander in to our services.

This morning, a scruffy old stranger wandered into the Eucharist during the first lesson. He noisily found a seat in the front row. After a few minutes, he came up to the Rector (during the second lesson), knelt before her and started talking loudly to her about something that was important to him. She got him to stand up and quiet down, and go sit back down.

Two of our young choristers and their families were sitting across the aisle from the man. It was obvious that the children were frightened, and they had no idea how they should react.

On the one hand, this fellow is a child of God. We are specifically enjoined by St. James to have no respect of persons:

My brethren, have not the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with respect of persons. For if there come unto your assembly a man with a gold ring, in goodly apparel, and there come in also a poor man in vile raiment; and ye have respect to him that weareth the gay clothing, and say unto him, Sit thou here in a good place; and say to the poor, Stand thou there, or sit here under my footstool: Are ye not then partial in yourselves, and are become judges of evil thoughts? (2:1-4)

On the other hand, the children are right to be cautious around strangers. There are a lot of unstable and sometimes dangerous people roaming the streets of our community.

This is not an isolated event. For about a month now, we have had another homeless man (one of the long-time regulars in our city) come to our church during the early service, sit himself down in one of the two red easy chairs in the narthex (which serves as the entry point to the worship space and the location of coffee hour), fall asleep and snore loudly, and stay all morning through the three services, until he is run out when it is time to lock up (about 1 pm). He is gross and disgusting, especially with the snoring. He smells. And he too is a child of God.

Read the rest here. Do.


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