On Thursday, June 27, it was Holy Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church’s night to serve on the street. They decided to bring ice cream sundaes with all the toppings for dessert along with the meal. They always do a bang up job. This was no exception. It was pouring rain when they set up and as they began to serve. I was put to work holding an umbrella to keep the soup from becoming diluted per Fr. Christos’s orders. The rain soon stopped and the ice cream came out: a huge container each of vanilla and chocolate. There was a case of Reddi-Whip, tubs of Maraschino cherries, chocolate and colored jimmies, chocolate and other syrups. Everyone got firsts. Many got seconds and more!
The volunteers were joyfully serving. Billy seemed to be even happier than usual as he piled on the whipped cream and topped it off with a cherry. It was a joy to witness. Once the ice cream was gone, I cheated and enjoyed a bowlful of whipped cream with chocolate jimmies.
Amazingly, there is an attitude that has taken hold in this age that would take offense at what we did. It goes something like this: ‘Why should we give people who don’t work nice things with our hard earned money? How will they learn to go out and get a job and better themselves?’
There are several flaws in that attitude. The first is that God told us to give to everyone in need. He told us to give until there is equality: “If you have two coats, give to him that has none.” “Our desire is that … there may be equality.” (2 Cor. 8:13) Jesus did not put any conditions of judging worthiness of alms recipients. In fact, we are repeatedly told to not judge.
The second flaw is that we could earn nothing except by the grace of God and the gifts He had given us and the accidents of race and friendships, geography, health, healthcare, etc.
The third flaw is that even after we have “earned” it, the money is not ours. “The earth is the Lord’s and the fulness thereof.” (Ps.24:1) God is not a respecter of persons. So to share a little bit of summer joy with some of God’s children who are down on their luck or who have lost their way or however you want to put it, is well within the Father’s will.
The fourth flaw is that most of these people could not even buy a job with a living wage. Many of those we serve do work and work hard, but wages have not kept up with the cost of living, especially of food costs in the city. Many are older or veterans with PTSD and no employers want to be bothered. Many worked hard at jobs that have now been moved to China. No one will hire someone without an address.
We just try to bring a little brightness and joy in Jesus’ Name. How can this be a bad thing? It is the tender mercies of God that lead men to repentance. Soften our hearts, Lord.