Wednesday, September 14, 2016

The Kingdom is at Hand

"The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel." Mark 1:15

“So give me hope in the darkness that I will see the light, ‘cause oh that gave me such a fright.

But I will hold as long as you like, just promise me we'll be alright.” “Ghosts that We Knew”; Mumford and Sons


Things are changing.  Scratch that.  Things have been changing; things have changed.  We were blind because we slept; we were blind because we did not care.  In seminary I was warned, I was taught that we had entered the post-Christian age.  I scoffed, “Not yet, no way.”

“There are no atheists in foxholes.”


In the trenches of urban ministry/missions, one would think the same wisdom would apply.  We deal with death, destruction, and things with teeth on a daily basis.  The greater the pain, the greater the fear the more we recognize that we need God.  When things are good?  Not so much.  We do ministry in a place, in a context that one would assume would be a bastion of, at the very least, a folksy, prosperity driven Christianity that typically dominates such contexts...except that it doesn’t.

We have children that do not know the very basic tenets of the Christian faith (this is also proving to be an issue in the pews as well); we have an increasing number of kids that do not know who Jesus is.  That I suppose shouldn’t be an entirely surprising statement.  Given the trajectories of the Church and culture, we knew this was coming.  However, what has caught us unaware is that anecdotally speaking, we have lost not only the current generation, but also it seems, a significant portion of the generation that preceded that one.

That really shouldn’t be all that surprising.  If we lose a generation as fully and completely as we have this one, then it stands to reason that we also lost increasing percentages of the preceding generations.  These things don’t happen overnight.  As I am fond of saying, “We have made our bed and now we must sleep in it.”  For too long we have tolerated Biblical illiteracy in the pews, a lack of accountability, and a lack of discipleship.  We do not value holiness and righteousness.  I wonder if we even believe anymore.  We have created a self-help program heavy on personal and spiritual comfort, while being light on things like repentance and transformation.  There was a reason that throughout the book of Joshua that we see the Hebrew people constantly warned to remember what God had done for not only them, but also their forefathers.


For the three plus years I’ve been in South Louisville, my office phone rings several times a week with requests for assistance.  People need/want help with food, clothes, and or utilities.  I have always operated on the philosophy that if I have it, it is yours.  I don’t really care why you need it, who you are, or where you live.  It’s an opportunity to live out our faith and it is an opportunity for conversation.

What has struck me over and over and over is that the people calling me have no idea why they are calling a church.  They have no idea as to why calling a church might result in them receiving help.  It does not cross their minds that we are an entity living out our existence in obedience to a God of mercy, grace, and love, with a special fondness for the poor.  A God who loves them and wants to spend eternity with them so much so, that He was willing to pay the ultimate price for them.  To them, we are a social service; nothing more, nothing less.  God is very rarely part of the equation for the people that call me.  It’s jarring, shocking, and heartbreaking.  We have made our bed and now we must sleep in it.


When Jesus first came, the “inbreaking of the Kingdom of God” came through child birth.  In all of its mess, pain, and struggle.  But this wasn’t a birth in a sterile hospital, surrounded by a team of experts to give that baby and the mother the best chance of survival.  There was no pain medication, no nursery, no balloons, and no flowers.  There were animals, straw, and likely animal shit and piss.  This was how God made his entry into the world, to live as one of us, alongside us.


I received a phone call two days ago in my office.  Remember earlier when I discussed my philosophy of giving?  We unfortunately don’t have it right now, so those phone calls have been easy.  I can’t give you what I don’t have.  It was a woman who was allegedly disabled with a twelve-year-old daughter and no food in the house.

“Unfortunately, we don’t have anything we can do right now.”  And usually it would be at this point that I would end the conversation, except I didn’t.  I knew as soon as the words left my mouth that I had erred.  “Have you tried x, y, and z?”

“Yes, they either can’t help us or can’t help us soon enough.  We have nothing to eat.”

I remembered what it was like to be disabled, with a child, and having nothing.

“I can’t make any promises, but I will come up with something.  I’ll run it by in the morning.  Can I have your address?”

The following morning came and I got a late start.  I’ve been doing the 60-70 hours a week thing in the church again.  I made the mistake of stretching out on the couch for a minute after my wife left for work.  An hour later, I woke with a start.

I got to my office by 9 and was already behind and knew I wouldn’t be making it to the woman’s house in the morning.  I found myself hopeful that she had forgotten me or that someone else had stepped up to help them.  I struggled for the first hour in my office as to what I was going to do.  Ultimately, I had to keep my word, but if I’m being honest, I really didn’t want to. 

I called her and reminded her of who I was.  Most times they don’t remember.  They just go down the church listings as quickly as they can until someone bites.  They don’t remember who, they just know someone did.  I asked if she had found anyone else to help; she hadn’t.  She assured me she had tried, but no one would help.  I asked if there was any way she could wait until tomorrow; it couldn’t wait, they had nothing.  I told her I wouldn’t be able to be there until later in the evening, probably close to 9, but that I’d be there.

When I got off the phone I decided to pull up her address on the computer; it was nearly a half an hour away in another bad part of the city.  Super.  As luck would have it though, an opportunity opened early in the afternoon and a good friend and I went grocery shopping.


When we pulled up at the house, the first thing that I noticed was that there was a handicapped parking space out front; at least she hadn’t lied about that.  Across the street at 1:30 in the afternoon were four gentlemen, three sheets to the wind and very obviously quite angry about it.  I looked at my friend and nodded towards the men across the street.

“If this goes bad, don’t hesitate to drop the groceries and start swinging.”  I said this as if this were the most normal, pastoral thing to say.  He received it with little more than a shrug; we’ve been on lots of adventures.  We live and operate in a different world.  I figure in those situations; we can always pray with them afterwards.

The woman was waiting at the door for us.  She showed us in and it was as bad as it gets.  The house was drenched in the stench of either cat urine or meth; I’m told it’s hard to distinguish between the two.  There was no furniture, no tv, no pictures, nothing.  To my left was a bedroom, where on the floor was some ratty looking blankets and a pillow.

“Where do you want this?”

“Just leave it there,” she replied pointing at the floor.

“Do you have a fridge?”


I told her we had more to bring in.  Two large men had to make two trips to get all of the groceries.  When we came back in, she simply pointed at the floor where the other groceries were.  It was obvious at that point that she wanted us to leave the house.  She had gotten what she needed and it was time for us to leave.  There were no thanks, no words, no nothing.  My friend had already started the exit the house, but I wasn’t ready.  I don’t really care if you thank me or not, I don’t need it and most times don’t want it, but I had some questions.

“Ma’am, I have some questions I would like to ask you, because I think you might be able to help me.  This isn’t to make you feel bad, because we are happy that we were able to help you.”  I smiled at her before continuing.  “How did you get my number?”

“I was just going down the phone book.”

“Well, my church starts with ‘G’, so you had to go a long way, huh?  That’s a lot of people saying no.”

“It was.”

“Do you know why we helped you?”

“Well yes, because you guys love helping people and it makes you feel good.”

“No,” I shook my head, smiled with tears in my eyes, and pointed at the groceries on the floor, “We did that simply because of Jesus, because He loves you.”

“Oh yeah!  The magic word!”

Point proven and heart broken.


This one hit me hard.  I don’t entirely know why.  I usually try to make sense of stuff like this from the perspective of the person we’re helping. 

There was a reason God kept me on the phone long after I would’ve normally hung up.  There was a reason God hit me with a full court press as soon as I woke up startled on my couch.  There’s a reason He made an opportunity to take that food several hours sooner than I had intended.  God is surely working on her or maybe her daughter.  Surely the reasons, the answers were in that.

Maybe.  Probably even likely.  I don’t know what God is doing in other people’s lives, so I don’t try to romanticize it or to give meaning where I have no business creating such things.  On the surface, it seemed like there was no heavenly purpose to this run...until I quit looking for meaning in others.


This place, this ministry...scripture, the many platitudes my ilk and I like to espouse, they become real here in ways hard to explain, but easy to experience.  Scripture, our beliefs; all too often they are theoretical.  We don’t put ourselves in places and ways where we can truly experience it.  We like our ivory towers, our sanitary, safe places.  We take the word “sanctuary” a little too literally.

And I think about that inbreaking on Christmas morning...the Kingdom came through blood, pain, piss, and shit.  There was no doctor, no nurses, no nursery.  There were no balloons or flowers.  No one to intervene if things went bad.  No medications to take the pain away.  No guarantee of survival.

We look for beautiful moments, mountaintop moments, with glowing, warm lights and heavenly choirs.   We look for lives and hells instantaneously transformed.  We expect teary eyed testimonies of lives saved through the actions of caring strangers.  We expect it to be easy, we expect it to be clean, and we expect it to be consistent.

What I learned yesterday, what I needed to hear, and what I needed to see?  The Kingdom is still inbreaking just as it did on Christmas morning.  It comes in the dark places, the strongholds when we dare to punch holes in the darkness.  It comes in blood, pain, piss, and shit.  It is childbirth in the wilderness with no promises, no guarantees.  My friend and I yesterday?  We punched a hole in darkness and left a baby in a manger.  

Monday, August 8, 2016

Call To Action

Over the past three years the support we have received from friends, family, and partner churches has been truly humbling and very affirming. What we do not just here in the “Shadow of the Downs”, but all over the city of Louisville is difficult, grueling, and yes, sometimes dangerous work. The support and prayers we have received from so many of you has no doubt played a significant role in keeping us in the “fight”. We do a job and ministries few others are willing or capable of doing, and we absolutely love it. With that said, for us, it really isn’t a job or even a ministry; it is who we have become as children of God.

It wasn’t always this way though, at least for me. If you had asked me in seminary what I wanted to do, I probably wouldn’t have been able to articulate to you a clear picture of what that was. However, if you had asked me what I didn’t want to do? Well, just come and hang out with me on any given day, and I would have articulated that very clearly for you…Urban pastor? Missional pastor? Church planter? Ministry with the poor? Convicts? Addicts? Drunks? Prostitutes? Gangbangers? Thieves? The homeless? Children? I didn’t know what I wanted to do, but I sure enough knew what I didn’t want to do. Now I cannot imagine any other life.

When you find Jesus in the streets; in the face of the forgotten, the invisible, and the unwanted, there is no going back. Life can never be the same. I ask my church and my friends all of the time, “What if we really lived like we believe the things that we proclaim?” One of the things we do especially well down here is that we give people an opportunity to find out. Scripture comes to life in places like this and in the faces and lives of those we serve; it changes both the served and the server. Not feeling God in the pew? Not seeing Him in the daily grind? Come and hang out with us. There is more to this faith than Sunday morning or some praise music.

It is to these ends, that I am going to make a plea to the same folks that have been praying for us, applauding us, and supporting us. Join us. Not in the change your membership to us sort of way. As a pastor I’ve never been one to care about such things and I care even less about it now. But rather join us in the “being the hands and feet of Jesus” kind of way. In the making real, palpable, and instantaneous differences in the life of a child kind of way. In the “restoring hope and dignity in the lives of people who have forgotten what such things are” kind of way. In the “I want to live like I believe” kind of way.

If you can read to a child. If you can scoop food on a plate. If you can talk to people that Jesus loves. If you can hand someone a piece of food on the street. If you can pray with someone. If you can simply be present in the lives of people who truly feel forgotten, unloved, and unwanted…we NEED you and have a place for you. Please consider being the answer to the prayers that you pray for us and the well wishes you wish for us.

In the coming days we are going to officially begin our fundraising campaign here at Heathen Church. When you minister to and serve people who cannot support themselves, much less a church, we have to rely on the generosity of our friends and family. To those ends, I will warn you, I will probably drive all of you nuts before this is over. But right now, what we need as badly as funding, is friends to come alongside of us. We need people who are ready to live their faith. We need people ready to live like they believe.

Please consider joining us. Please do not hesitate to contact me on here, in private message, in email (, by phone, by carrier pigeon, smoke signals, whatever it takes.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Un-Forgotten: Ode to a Friend

Tonight I received the confirmation I had hoped I wouldn’t receive.  I wrote the following back in January, but I didn’t post it.  I wanted more confirmation than neighborhood rumor.  It’s important to me to share this.  Not for myself, but rather my friend “Neil”.  He mattered and he didn’t even know it.  I received the confirmation of his death as I was told about another death in the neighborhood last night, one of our “familiars”; another of the forgotten.  People see junkies, they see homeless, they see criminals.  We see something else; we see human beings, created in the divine image.  Human beings precious to our God and precious to us.


 I’m not sure where to begin, which on this night probably means that I shouldn’t begin anywhere.  I’m just a few days into a two week “renewal” leave (ie…lots of napping and praying) and as usual, I’m not getting a whole lot of an opportunity to rest.  Currently, it is almost 10pm on a Saturday night and I have been hit with an absolute barrage for the last few hours.  From an alleged horrific event in a child’s life that just absolutely turned my stomach to another stomach turning event in the life of a member to the news that we have lost “Neil”.

 I know that you do not know “Neil” and that’s okay.  I don’t think many did or cared to for that matter.  Neil was one of the first people I met in the ‘hood.  He had seen me carrying stuff in and out of the church and had asked if we were interested in hiring a handyman.  I talked with Neil that day from a distance of only a couple of feet.  Neil’s face was covered with the tell-tale open wounds of a meth addict from digging at invisible bugs.  Many of the wounds oozed; all of them were raw and angry.  Neil had long hair, not unlike myself, and a beard, giving him a Jesus like appearance.

Neil should have been a hard person to talk to, his wounds difficult to stomach.  But what I noticed about Neil; I mean, what I really noticed about Neil were his eyes.  He had eyes that could only be described as gentle and kind.  There was a good soul in there.  Neil became something of a favorite of myself and my team around the neighborhood.  We always took the time to talk to him and to invite him in.  I think everyone else saw in him the things that I did.


We see and deal with a lot of bad stuff in our ministry.  As my friend and colleague from another church mentioned just this morning as he introduced me to his leadership retreat, “Corey has stories that will curl your hair.”  After I finished my talk to the assembled leadership, one of the members who I have become friendly with over the past several months came up to me, “I’m going to come back down there soon.  My husband says that I can’t go alone or after dark, but I’m coming back down.”

 My team and I are very good in these moments and these times.  We dive in, we love, and we try to disciple.  We truly don’t care what you look like, smell like, or believe.  The plight of the forgotten and the invisible, the unwanted; these are the stories of our people.

 I can’t even begin to tell you how many people we encounter that whether they come or go, no one knows and no one cares.  Think about that for a second.  So isolated, so alone in the world, that you exist as little more than a taker of space.  That person you breeze past in the grocery store?  That person you spy out of the corner of your eye in the gas station parking lot?  The nameless and faceless people you see walking on the street?  You know what?  They are neither nameless or faceless, they are human beings of divine worth, people that this Lord and Savior we all purport to follow found precious enough to die for.  They have names and they have stories.  They have feelings; hopes, desires, fears, and memories of better times.  Some of them even remember people who once loved them.  What so many of them have in common is that none of them wanted the situation in which they now find themselves.  This was not what they had hoped for, this was not their happy ending.


 “Neil” lived with his mother and his brother “Steve” a half block from the church.  We would see them often; all three suffering from the same affliction.  We would give food to Neil’s mom and we would sit with Steve during his breaks with reality; we have a ton of Steve stories.

Neil on the other hand was the one that really connected with us; there was something there, a spark that hadn’t yet been snuffed out.  He would always stop by the church when he saw us there; sometimes trying to sell us stuff he had found in someone’s garbage, no doubt for drug money.  Other times he would ask us if we were hiring.  While others, most of the time, he was just happy that people were talking to him like a human being.

 I have three very distinct stories of Neil that rise above all the others.  The first was the first time we actually got him to spend some time on the church property.  He was always okay with chatting with us, but to actually come to the church for an event?  That was too much, it made him nervous.

 Finally, one Sunday afternoon, we were having one of our neighborhood cookouts that we do during the summer and we finally convinced him to come and join us.  I remember a couple of things about these early moments.  The first is that his sores were worse than usual.  He had one in particular on his cheek, just above the corner of his mouth that looked as if he scratched it one more time you’d see the teeth behind it.  The second memory is that as he stepped onto the grass of the front yard of the church, he reminded me of a scared child.  He was nervous, his eyes darted around wildly, he looked as if he were walking on legs of rubber.  And then he met Trudy, one of our team members.  As we all did at one time, Neil took an instant shine to Trudy.  For the next forty-five minutes he talked nonstop about his grandparents and his little cousins; he couldn’t stop himself.  It really was as if some buried spring within him had suddenly burst back to life; he was remembering, “I matter, I am not alone, I love.”  This is one of my favorite memories of my time in South Louisville.

 My second Neil story was one of the hardest fits of laughter I’ve ever had.  Rickelle and I were riding into the neighborhood early one morning and we had turned in on the street near the liquor store.  I immediately spied Neil, who had a look on his face that told me he meant some sort of business.  We pulled up alongside him on the corner; he was oblivious to us.  I noticed that clutched in his hand was a grocery bag that barely covered a brand new box of Lucky Charms cereal.  Without warning, Neil exploded in a dead sprint with his box of cereal.  Seconds later, his mother (a large woman) exploded out of the liquor, stumbling down the steps before she broke into a not quite as impressive sprint (stumble) after Neil.  She was screaming a litany of incomprehensible curses after Neil.  I looked at Rickelle and just absolutely lost it.  I couldn’t quit laughing.  I had no idea what in the hell I had I just seen, but it was quite possibly the funniest thing I had ever witnessed and somehow, it was just so our neighborhood.

 We drove down Denmark, tears streaming down my face and there is Neil.  Running with the steely determination and concentration of an Olympic sprinter, his arms pumping rhythmically up and down, that box of Lucky Charms his prize.  In the rearview mirror, Neil’s mom was now at a “brisk” walk, her fist pumping wildly in the air, her hair askew.

 My final Neil story is one of the most disturbing stories I’ve had.  We were still during our preview phase of Heathen Church and I was in my office just minutes before I was to preach, when I heard a scream outside.  I ran outdoors to see an ambulance near Neil’s, but not at Neil’s; it was across the street.  I quickly took off towards the ambulance when I saw a “familiar” come out of the alley.  He was stunned, not entirely there.

 “She dead!  She’s dead!  She’s fucking dead!” The young man screamed to no one in particular.  I continued forward to meet him, he had been oblivious to my presence.

 “Who’s dead?” I asked, standing in front of him, impeding his progress.

 “My girl!  She shot up too much!  She’s dead!”  He threw his arms in the air to grab his head when I noticed blood dripping down his arm.

 “Let me see your arm, you’re bleeding.”  He held his arm out; he looked to have ripped his skin where he had been shooting up with his girl.

 “She’s dead man, she’s dead.” And he took off down the street. (She was dead, but unbeknownst to him, she had been resuscitated.)

Moments later, Neil came stumbling out of the alley.  His eyes were locked straight ahead as he shambled towards and then past the church.  I called out to him, even yelling at him at one point; I couldn’t even get a blink out of him.  Neil wasn’t there.


Tonight, in the barrage of crazy that has come to define us, I received word that Neil had died of a drug overdose in that same alley; alone.  So often in our neighborhood, people disappear in the night.  One day they’re there, the next they’re not.  No phone call, no note, no forwarding address, no trace.  People do not come to the South End to stay.  We hadn’t seen Neil since the Kentucky Derby last year.

It breaks my heart that Neil died of what we knew would eventually get him.  However, it breaks my heart even more that he died alone.  No one deserves that, especially him.  He was one of ours.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Reflections on Lent, Ministry, Self, and the Hood

I can tell you unequivocally that I have a lot of joy and contentment in my ministry.  The peace, purpose, and calm that comes when who you are collides with who you have been made to be; there is nothing like it.  I have a lot of fun at Grace UMC and in South Louisville.  Even after nearly three years there, I still wake up excited to go to “work”.  I have the most amazing ministry team I would’ve ever dared to have imagined existed.  Hard working, selfless people who love God that I get to count as family.

I felt it important to mention these things because of what I’m about to say.  I had a moment last week where I was absolutely gut punched; which is nothing new.  Happens a lot.  What wasn’t so new was that I sat in my own ashes for a bit.  I’ve become so good at sitting in the ashes of others that I suppose I had forgotten what it was to sit in my own.  I suppose there is a fear in doing so.  What if I despair?  What if I lose heart?  What if someone sees the momentary chink in my armor?

“You’re the pastor, you cannot do any of those things.” Lol…whatever.

One of our regulars since I’ve been in the ‘hood reappeared after months and it wasn’t good.  The last time we had seen him he was on a walker.  He had attempted to take someone’s drugs without paying for them.  He got off light.  They chased him down and busted up his leg with a ball bat. 

Prior to that?  He had seemingly gotten his life together.  He had gotten a job at one of the neighborhood grocery stores.  He was so proud to show us his uniform.  He was even prouder yet when soon after he was named “Employee of the Month”.  There’s something about a grown man chasing you down in the street to celebrate a life accomplishment like a child bringing home an extraordinary report card.  I totally would have put his accomplishment on the fridge if I could have.

Prior to that?  The first time we met this gentleman, we caught him stealing food from us during church only to come back later for the cookout.  He would come to Heathen Church so stoned he couldn’t sit up during church.  Despite that, he would suddenly sit up with an appropriately timed, “Amen!” Before collapsing back down in the pew.  Welcome to my church; it is in fact glorious.

But now?  The man we found last weekend?  Suicidal, strung out, and homeless; a shell of the man we had come to know and love.  And let’s face it, he wasn’t working with a whole lot to begin with.  There was an emptiness to him that rattled me.  My heart broke.

I came to my wife, plopped down in a chair at the dining room table, “Why do so many of our stories end up in rehab, jail, or a homeless shelter?”  I was covered in my own ash.


Everyone and their dog knows that I love Christmas.  And so you would imagine that my Advent services are second to none.  Frankly speaking, they’re not.  I almost always walk away from them feeling like I didn’t quite nail them the way that I had wanted; which is kind of infuriating.  Maybe it’s the pressure I put on myself?  Maybe there is no way that I can convey the enormity of the love I have for that season?  And maybe I’m just being a little too hard on myself.  Who knows, not important.

Whatever the case may be, where I feel that I really shine is in the season of Lent.  I make things clear beginning on Ash Wednesday that we are marching towards the cross in the distance; drawing ever closer and it won’t be empty when we get there. There will be no rushing to the empty tomb on Easter morning.  We are going to understand and we are going to explore ourselves, our discipleship, and our Savior.  I want us to be able to stand at the foot of the cross on “Good” Friday to understand not only the price paid for us, but also the enormity of it.  Most of all?  I want you to understand that on that night, all hope was gone as a lifeless figure was pulled down from that cross.  There was and can never be a darker day than the day that we killed God.

My “Good” Friday sermon is a sledgehammer and yet there are no cruel intentions to it.  I seek not to harm, but rather to connect.  To connect followers with a story that we don’t like to sit with for too long, a story that we don’t like to dwell on; the price paid for each one of us.  Sure, we’ll acknowledge that Jesus died for our sins, which is certainly true enough.  But we treat it as if it were some far away event, as if it were some impersonal event that we have somehow become entitled to.  Not me.  I want to be reminded and I want my people to know what love on the cross truly meant.  I want us to stand there with our Lord and Savior, not scattering, not denying, and not averting our eyes.  I want us to understand and I want it to be personal.

At the end of sermon, I invite the congregation to journey with the lifeless body of Jesus into the tomb.  I want them to witness the boulder being placed across the opening.  I want them to experience the deepest darkness of despair.  Jesus is dead.  It’s a very rough and brutal place to take good people.  And my tendency is to let them sit there for a few seconds, which I’m sure seems an insufferable amount of time.  The faces that make up the congregation are without fail tear stained and broken.

Just when I sense that they cannot take it anymore, which is really, probably the point that I can’t take it any longer, I quietly and gently remind them, paraphrasing the famous words of Tony Campolo (who I’m not a huge fan of BTW), “Take heart dear brothers and sisters, it’s only Friday; Sunday’s coming.”  To really appreciate and celebrate Sunday morning, we have to endure Friday.  After all, to be resurrected, you do in fact first have to die.


Needless to say, being a little over a week away from that “Good” Friday sermon when the churches of two of my closest brothers will join together with mine, this sermon has been on my mind and heart a lot.  This one takes a lot of mental, emotional, and spiritual preparation.  In all of that, I have found an odd peace in the sealed tomb of Friday.

The stories of our context; the despair, the pain, the loss, and of course many of the children and youth we minister to, we exist in a Friday world.  Our context is really good at finding new and devious ways of breaking your heart and attempting to break your spirit.  But I realized something today in my preparations, something profound.

Sunday is coming.  All too often in the “South End” we operate in a Friday world.  A world oftentimes of death, a world of no hope, a world of darkness.  The seeming impossibility of drug addiction, of homelessness, of violence.  The absolute tragedy of under/poorly educated children; children with no hope at school or at home.  It’s a vicious cycle; a self feeding, self sustaining monster with very real teeth.  A monster not content to just feed on the afflicted or the sinner. 

And yet, we are to be a light, a voice of hope, a voice of mercy, and a voice of love in the face of that monster.  We do this not because it’s simply what “we are supposed to do”.  We do not do this because we are trying to make a name for ourselves.  And we certainly don’t do it because we are some sort of spiritual masochists. 

We do it because we understand Friday and we know that Sunday is coming.