Friday, May 8, 2009

How can this be?

I just read a yahoo article about a homeless couple that had a storybook wedding, thanks to a caring congregation in Washington DC. (See the story here: I give thanks for their story of love, even while living on the streets. I applaud the generousity of a congregation that gifted them with a wedding. But I have to ask: How can a boy be thrown out of his mother's home at age 14, and be homeless in Washington DC for the next 14 years? Dante White, age 28, just got married. Dante and his bride, Nhiahni Chestnut, are still homeless. How can this be?
We live in the United States of America. The economy has tanked, and yet I am sure we are still the richest nation on the planet. Why can't we do better for our people?

I am outraged. I am ashamed.
God weeps.
And we go shopping.

How can this be?

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Manna & Tamiflu

I remember as a kid learning the Bible story of the Israelites wandering the desert and thinking it was a pretty lame story. So, they got cranky, who doesn’t. I remember thinking it was pretty mean of God to make them wander so long. Forty years in the desert is pretty tough, then again, they were pretty whinny, and a golden idol to another god, after what God had done for them? Good thing I am not God, now that I think about it, I might have been a little more vengeful.

I also remember the whole Manna part of the story and thinking it was a weird story, bread from heaven, none on the Sabbath, but extra on the day before? Wow, “what’s that all about?” is what I used to think about it. But, now, I think I get it. It took way too long for me to get why this story was that important, but today I get it.

For those who know the story, skip this paragraph, for those who don’t, let me explain. The ancient Israelites, God’s chosen people, were slaves in Egypt. God sent Moses to free them. They kinda got a little scared, and tried to go back, building a Golden Calf idol as a “sorry” present to the Egyptians and their gods. God, sent the Israelites on a little 40 year road trip in the desert. To say the Israelites were into whining is an understatement. You name it, they whined about it. They got scared about starving and God said, no problem, we’ll take care of that. For meat, I’ll send you birds each day to eat. For bread, God sent a white powder, easily turned into bread, called Manna. Now, they were not supposed to work on The Sabbath (think Sunday), but God sent them extra on the day before (think Saturday). Mind you, they were not to hoard any extra left over but instead to share. Any hoarded Manna went bad, yucky, horror movie bad. Ok, you’ve gotten your Sunday School Lesson, now you’re in with the in crowd. We can rejoin the rest.

The Israelites were scared. They were in a dangerous situation. They needed something and didn’t think they could rely on God to get it for them. They had to have it. They needed to hoard it. You can’t rely on God to keep giving that to us. Bad things may happen. Sound familiar? Think Flu treatment meds, enough money to pay the bills, or possibly at some point food.

Sadly, it took a fellow Christian not getting the point of this story, for me to get it. I was talking to a friend, a fellow attorney & believer. He and I both have the stress filled job of representing the working poor & middle class during the economic collapse of our lifetimes, and were venting (No, say it ain’t so, Kurt venting). However, his frustrations weren’t about the injustices we were both seeing done to our clients. Don’t get me wrong, he was frustrated by that too. No, his frustration was against the President allowing the tax rate for the upper 5% of the country to go from 36% to 39%. Mind you, even we, two very skilled lawyers, don’t qualify for that. Also, he was mad at the media for blasting people of means from getting the Tamiflu treatment from doctors, before being sick. “So, they’re just supposed to wait until there is no more of it, when they can afford it now”, he railed, expecting me to join him.

That’s when I truly got it: Why the story (of the gift from God of Manna and the silly point about hoarding, and that which you hoard going bad) had to be in the Bible. Because we’re all basically scared about not having enough. We all think we won’t have the money for what we need when the time comes. That we won’t have the medicine when the time comes. We can’t rely on God to provide. We’ve all said it, thought it and/or lived it. Believe me, and my wife Cheri can vouch, I’m the king of “Knowing About Bad Scenarios” (I watch all of the cable shows on doomsday scenarios, check out the “End Day” for my favorite).

But, when the chips have been down in my life; When it was about keeping what I wanted, but about what I truly needed, God has been there. It has been since college that I have missed a paycheck. Oh, sure, I’ve taken pay cuts, not had enough to pay bills, faced layoff, gotten a pink slip, etc. It’s not like I’ve been without worries. I’ve even been the boss to layoff 25% of a workforce during the holidays. But, as to survival, God has provided. Believe me, I am not the “trust in God and everything will be fine” type. But even I am there. I am even there about really bad things like the Swine Flu (it helps the CDC has doses of treatments for Millions of us ready to roll), Asteroid strikes, etc.

Well, my family and I sat down, thanks to Cheri’s leadership (sounds better than prodding) and looked at our lives. We discovered we’ve got quite a bit of extra Manna, and there is no sense hoarding it. My children have toys, games and books they don’t need. My wife and I have been blessed by many books that we’ve read and have not passed on. So, we decided to do something about it.

On Saturday, June 6th we’re are going to host a “free store” out of our front yard. That’s the Saturday of the Old West End Festival. For those of you have not experienced it, something like 30,000 to 50,000 people will descend on our neighborhood for Victorian/Edwardian/Arts and Crafts home tours, an art fair, and hundreds of garage sales.

But that day, we’re not going to be selling anything. We’re going to stay home and share our, and any of the Village folks or friends, Manna in the form of books and toys. No costs, no proving you need. Just giving folks what they need or want as a gift of God’s love. A little hospitality in a scary world. Also, at the end of the days events, The Village’s Music Team is going to play a free concert and we’ll be giving away food.

Wanna share some Manna too? Or maybe just help give some away? If so, call me at 419-215-9550 or email at and we’ll get you signed up to help, figure out a time to let you drop off your toys or books or sign up to volunteer that day. Also, if you wanna be part of starting a church that thinks like this, we could use a little manna too in the form of your prayers, your presence, or a small amount of that extra money. Even the equivalent of a couple of beers or a Starbucks latte’ or two a month, could help change the world for the better.