Week number three at the courtyard of Victoria Cool Aid Society's Downtown Community Centre and we are starting to settle into the ebb and flow life in the centre of the inner city. We put our new sign out on the side walk and Charon greeted and welcomed people into the courtyard area.
It all had that feel again of that scandalous story that Jesus told of the King that had prepared a feast, and wanted nothing more than to have his dining room table filled with guests.
With the initial guests declining the invitation with all kinds of excuses, the King sends his servant out again to every corner of the inner city, the back alleys, the gutters, skid row rooming houses and campsites in wooded parks. The servant went through all the broken land scape of the inner city bringing the unloved, the addicts, the disabled, the mentally ill, all the lives that society had thrown away deemed as worthless. The servant brought back this beautiful parade of broken humanity, guests grateful for the invitation. The King excited to have his table full. ( Luke 14, The Message paraphrase )
Troy and I headed out with invitations along the sidewalks, to the steps of Central Baptist where folks sharing the last bit of some rock, to folks pushing shopping carts on Quadra Street. With invitations in hand they flowed back to the courtyard.
We also had Penny and Gary join us tonight helping giving out hot chocolate, and also looking for their missing granddaughter.
By the end of the evening Alice and Klaas had served up 180 bowls of soup, before running out. You finally come to the conclusion that we'll never have enough. There will always be someone who has to go with out. But, we are always humbled by their profound gratitude. They never seem to get upset if the guy in front of them gets a bowl of soup and they don't. Always thankful, and grateful for what ever they get.
Like I say, we're getting used to the ebb and flow of life. It's like this sea of humanity, this sacred tide washing ashore. It's our lives interacting with theirs. It's a divine reaction, where I believe God is in the midst of all it.
We continue to pray for Penny and Gary's granddaughter, that they find her. But, more than that, that their granddaughter finds herself, finds who she really is, that, " made in the image of God." Sure, there might be the rare few that choose life on the streets, the lure of drug addiction...but usually it's broken lives escaping, pain and abuse, where the inner city has a way of claiming them.
We pray for all our inner city friends, for strength to get through days and weeks ahead. We pray they find the inner strength to fight their demons. And we pray for a society that sees its strength in living compassionately for the least of these.
And I'm truly thankful for my dear friends in CARTS, the volunteers that come out week after week. For the unseen volunteers, the sandwich makers, the cookie makers, for Kelly and her mom maintaining the beauty bar every Saturday evening. You all inspire me by your unconditional love, your grace and your generous hospitality.
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