On Wednesday, I published a blog article in which I stated that this was going to be the first time in 16 years that we would not be able to give out dollar coins in honor of St. Nicholas for St. Nicholas’ Day. A family who read that, took it to heart and did what they could to address the situation. Thursday afternoon, $100 in rolls of dollar coins were dropped by our kitchen while I was preparing soup. I was a little nervous with just $100. The last couple of years we have distributed far more than that. I figured, we would just have to see how it goes and if it meant not giving each person $3, well we would have to adjust.
Brian, Tony and I arrived in the TKJ-mobile and unloaded the iced tea, 4 dozen hard boiled eggs, 71 PB&J sandwiches from a LaSalle High School Hockey alum, 6 loaves of ham sandwiches from Serge & Alex, 22 quarts of turkey, rice, cabbage, etc. stew from me, and bread pumpkin pudding from Miss April (All the servers raved over the smell as soon as I opened the lid. They were hoping for leftovers, but no such luck) and added them to the line on the park benches. Presvy. Joanna and Russ and Sophie were already there with peanuts, oranges, bananas, goodies and a table for the iced tea. As we got ourselves organized, Sean and Zakiyya McKelven arrived with a crew with their ministry from Philadelphia Community Church with packs of toiletries and socks & underwear. They set up at the end of our line. McGraws arrived with more sandwiches and spaghetti. We were set to start!
I asked Sean to say the blessing. He did and we were off! It was the first week of the month and the folks who were serving at the Love Park were giving away some nice stuff, so we had a much smaller crowd than usual. I waited until everyone had gone through the line once and we had put out the clothes and blankets. I then quietly worked my way around through the remaining people and gave each person three $1 coins telling them it was in honor of St. Nicholas’ name day on Dec. 6. It was mainly our core group who stuck around, along with with a couple of alumni, old timers who showed up for the occasion. A couple of the people even got doubles. I had $5 in dollar coins in my pocket in my personal change so that covered the last two requests, with the 100th dollar from the rolls. God provided.
After I had given all the coins away and gotten all the clothes and blankets out, I saw Grigory, the Russian man. He came up to me very concerned. We have been praying for his son who is in the Russian Army, fighting in the Ukraine. He tries to call him every day. He told me he hasn’t gotten any word from him in four weeks! He fears that he is dead. He told me that Putin has reneged on paying for service members’ burials. Grigory is just beside himself. Grigory is feeling blessed to be homeless in the US rather than being betrayed in Russia. It’s just hard to know where to go with that, but I can relate on quite a personal level just now.
Mark showed up with bananas about the time Gloria asked for a blessing. She embraced me weeping. I blessed her. She said, “My name is Gloria, rev! Now I need a real blessing. I’m in need!” So she hugged me tighter, and I hugged her and I dug deeper and I prayed and I sought a proper blessing for a drug addicted, high, street walker, who wanted to turn a new page in her life. When we were done, we were both crying. She was a bit confused, but she was thankful and happy. I told her that the only way to hold onto her blessing was to continue to make right choices, even if they are the harder ones to make. Matthew 6:33 “But seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness and all these things shall be added unto you as well.” A minute or two later she was asking for tokens to get home. I told her that I didn’t have any, and I didn’t have any money to buy any because I had already given it all away earlier. She asked if I knew if anyone else who had any. I said everyone in the gathering had a few dollar coins, because I had just given them to them. Well, the first person she happened to ask was Mark, who was very willing to help, but he also recognized her condition. She wasn’t making consistent sense. Mark was going to be leaving from there to go to the airport to pick up his wife, so he offered to drive her home; a much better solution.
The team had finished packing up the TKJ-mobile, etc. We headed for home, dropping off Tony & Greg at their place on the way. Brian & I got back to my place on fumes. Then Brian continued home in his car. Another successful outing. Our mortgage still isn’t paid. I still cry 24/7 for the unjust killings in the streets, but for a few hours on a Thursday night, there was no race, no gender, no us and them, no rich and poor, no suburb and city, no saved and lost, no religions, no non-religions, just people muddling through together with love and a little respect and brutal honesty. I believe that is approaching what is meant by “in Jesus’ Name.”