I have known Rashawn for over 20 years. He suffers from dwarfism, yet I have rarely seen him with a negative attitude. He works hard whenever he can get work. He always has a plan for the future. I have never seen him drunk or high. He is known to be a reliable man. Life keeps knocking him down. He is trying to take care of his wife, Alice, who he calls Diamond. She is a beautiful, cheerful, African-American woman who is always thankful for every little blessing that comes their way. This has been a rough winter. There has not always been enough money to rent a room. The shelters don’t let people stay in during the days. There has not always been enough room in the shelters. We have not had enough money to make up the shortfall to provide rent for them. They had been working with a social worker and were on the verge of moving into a house last November. The social worker’s mother died. She went to France to bury her mother. The agency did not transfer their case intact to another social worker. They had to start the months long process all over.
All of this made for a bad situation, leaving Rashawn and Diamond out in the cold for some of the wettest, winter nights of the year. Diamond got walking pneumonia and TB. She spent a few days in ICU and a few days recovering with oxygen on a regular floor at Hahnemann, then they released her back onto the street, still coughing, during Code Blue weather. May God have mercy on us!
Many of the private shelters, including the one they have been staying at (because they can stay there as a couple) will be closing on April 1. That’s less than a week away.
I know we can’t save everybody we meet or intervene in every bad situation, but we can do this. At The King’s Jubilee, we have never had the institutional approach, that, if we can’t do it for everybody, we should do it for nobody. No. We have the attitude of “the starfish thrower” who when she was told that it was futile to throw the beached starfish back into the sea, because they were too numerous. How could she possibly make a difference? She replied, “It will make a difference for this starfish!” as she flung one more out, saving its life.
Rashawn and Diamond need $500 for one month’s rent to get a running start through the iffy weather of spring. This way, Diamond has a real shot at recovery. Frankly, I don’t understand why this is not covered as part of Medicaid. It is far cheaper than a return visit to the hospital. At any rate, we can do this. Rashawn and Diamond would be most grateful and they also deeply covet your prayers. (Rashawn’s Christian name is Jose’.)
P.S. We paid over two months of their rent, even though less than that was designated for their support. They did join us for Memorial Day picnic. When I took them back, they were very upset because they did not have rent. They did not tel us this ahead of time. I told them I did not have money. Diamond got very upset. She started to call and accuse me of all sorts of all sorts of false things. Anthony answered the phone, since I was driving. He could not believe what she was saying. He has known me for many years and was at our house for the weekend. She began texting all sorts of accusations that we had not given them all the money that had come in for rent, etc. We paid the next month’s rent despite the accusations, even though none of the money was designated for them. We decided to go the second mile. A few weeks later they asked if they could store five bags of their things in our barn. We said OK and arranged for Uncle John to pick it up from their place on his way home from work.
When John arrived at our place, I went outside and found they had come home with him, expecting to stay with us. They had just not said anything to him and climbed into his car. They had never asked me if they could stay with me. They had accused me of all sorts of awful things the last time they were here for a picnic. We had helped them in spite of their behavior with another $600 month’s rent and $20 cash. It was close to midnight. There was no room. Bethann would have been very upset if she woke up to find them here. I was ballistic. I have never in all my years seen such gall and such deception! I gave them 10 minutes to put their bags in the barn and get off my property before I called the police for trespass. They called John. John gave them a ride to the train station to get a ride to Philadelphia.
Now they are texting me with a threat of suing me for not giving me all the money I raised for them. They are delusional and evil. Rashawn, as it turns out, has been offered housing through an agency in Phila., which he turned down in order to stay to the hotel without inspection with Alice Diamond Robinson.
I started to put together a wish list before Christmas, but everything takes so much longer for me these days. Plus, it just didn’t feel right, you know, my mother’s voice in my head is a powerful thing. We were taught never to ask for what we wanted for Christmas or birthdays, but to be surprised and grateful for whatever we received. Of course, in my eyes, my mom was the best gift giver ever! She was so in tune with what I liked. Only one time did she buy me something I did not like. It turns out, she did not like it either, but she did it because of my joining an ultra-conservative Baptist church. It was a perfectly hideous, dark blue, sharkskin suit. She was so happy when I wanted to exchange it.
At any rate, this is for the ministry. At this point, we need everything if we are going to continue. Next month will mark the completion of our 26th year in ministry. There was a time about 18 years ago, we had a couple of men who had been involved in military logistics and procurement. They had peculiar gifts for locating and bargaining for whatever one needed and wanted to donate their skills to TKJ. I put the word out to some of the ministries in the city and told them to give us their wish lists including their wildest and craziest desires. Rev. Ora Love giggled and asked, “Really? Can I get an electric golf cart?” Within a week, we delivered an electric golf cart to her office in Richard Allen Homes for her to cart around her books for the GED and literacy classes. So now, I am going to share with you all of my wild and crazy wish list. I will further preface this by saying that, if you know how we have lived for the last 30 years, you will know that our house is a staging area for the ministry. Bags and boxes of clothes or cups or stacks of blankets may be found in our living room or kitchen at any given time. Our barn is filled with furniture waiting to go to people moving off the street. The office for the ministry is in what would be the dining room.
So here goes:
$1,450/month more in monthly pledges. We currently have $550/month. The smallest is $5. The largest is $120. Whatever is comfortable for you: Paypal, recurring debit from credit union or bank, check by mail. This would allow us to be secure in ministry, and expand services.
IMMEDIATE NEED: Four months mortgage payments & late fees to avoid foreclosure, so The King’s Jubilee doesn’t lose it’s base of operations. $6,000
Work crews to finish the barn; as well as some of the building materials. Our barn was to be our office and storage area for the pantry, as well as the prep kitchen for Thursday nights. We have a lot done. Then I got hospitalized with infections, then strokes and migraines and the infection ate into my spine, etc., leaving me disabled. This would help multiply the ministry both in Philadelphia and in the Bucks-Mont area.
Nissan Taxi. The TKJ mobile is 10-1/2 years old. It still works well. We find that we are cramped most of the time. The Nissan Taxi or that sized Nissan van with five passengers and luggage behind would be ideal for our hauling needs for the nights we serve and for helping set up new households, when people move off the street. We don’t know the price or even if Nissan is able to sell us one. 😉 I have stopped in to talk to them, because the proper time to shop for a new car is always when one can’t even afford to fill the gas tank.
IMMEDIATE NEED: Money to inspect the TKJ-mobile, which probably means new tires. It is out of inspection now. So we are counting on the police not noticing. The last two weeks meals were paid for partly by what little bit of credit we have left on a Visa card.
Drivers. I can’t drive at night, due to damage done from strokes. We have a few. At times, they are all busy with work, or ill, and I have to scramble. It helps if you are a somewhat aggressive driver and are comfortable with city driving, have an eclectic taste in music and a good sense of humor.
Friends. One would think this would not need explaining. Alas, it does. Jesus said, “There is a friend that sticks closer than a brother.” You don’t find one by just sitting next to one at church. Paul clarified in Ephesians 4 that we grow together when we go out into the world and do actual works of service together.
Thank you for whatever you can do to help fulfill my wildest dreams. They are all to serve the poor and homeless in Jesus’ Name, which means according to his will, with dignity and respect.
By the way, if we get the taxi, it will be painted orange with The King’s Jubilee stickers on it and no taxi sign.
On the morning of January 31, I had a terrific migraine. I realized it had set off a stroke when I was eating my soup at lunch and it was dribbling down the right side of my beard. The right side of my face was numb. The migraine continued for four days. The numbness in my face remained. Plus I have intermittent times of feeling like I was going to fall for no good reason. My typing has gotten even worse with my fingers grabbing totally random keys on the keyboard. I seem to lose small pieces of time. Intermittently I cannot focus on words. The type shakes. This afternoon I felt shaky, but I wasn’t shaking. I have been having a more difficult time finding the right word, so have been talking more slowly; occasionally forgetting to finish sentences altogether. The brain is a strange world.
Several of my friends have been telling me to see a doctor for over a week now. Every time they have seen me, they told me I am not right. And they add that they mean more not right than usual.
I finally called my neurologist today. I spoke to the nurse. She listened to the way I spoke on the phone, then the Dr. listened in for a bit. They told me to go to the ER. They observed me in the ER and felt I was still exhibiting symptoms of experiencing stroke. I had an inconclusive CAT scan. They kept me for observation and an MRI tomorrow.
February was a blur. First, I was sick with the flu and bronchitis so bad that I could hardly do anything for two weeks. Bethann got it, too, not as severely, but with the bronchitis. On the 17th, we were both going to make it to church for the first time in three weeks. She sat up on the edge of the bed and told me she thinks she is having a heart attack. I got her some aspirin and water. We got dressed and I rushed her to the ER. It turns out it was very bad atrial fibrillation. She was in the hospital until Friday. They installed a pacemaker on Thursday. We did make it to church on the 24th.
On Thursday, February 28, we made soup and I got supplies and went to Giant to get the iced tea. In fact, that is why I was a little late getting to the city. I was a little disoriented, not focused on the fact that it was Thursday, for the entire day. I know that sounds funny and it is, but our life has been that disrupted by various forces and events lately. Serge and Alex and Serge and Alex (that’s not a typo, two different families) dropped off sandwiches. Brian came and we headed down to the city. When we arrived, I realized that it was the last Thursday of the month and the people of Holy Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church made the soup and brought the iced tea and cups, etc. I said to Brian, “I’m an idiot. Leave the soup and iced tea in the car. Just grab the sandwiches. I forgot which week it was.” I let Fr. Chris know what I had done and told him that if he ran out of soup, we had plenty more!
They served the line. Everyone got plenty. A little bit after we got there, Linda Notskas arrived with blankets and quilts and a few coats from St. John Chrysostom Albanian Orthodox Church. We helped her give those out. She had a car full, but she felt heart broken that she didn’t have more. She is such a sweetheart. God bless her.
Well, the crowd cleared. We packed up. We said our goodbyes to the folks from Holy Annunciation. They shared their well wishes and hugs for Bethann. We were just about to get into the TKJ-mobile, when Alex came over. (the 3rd Alex of the evening) I was so glad to see him. I had his cellphone, which he had arranged to have mailed to our house. I asked him if he wanted soup. He was surprised we had any left, so I told him the sorry tale of my forgetfulness. One thing led to another. We had several more stragglers. It turns out there had been a lecture at the Free Library about the persistence of poverty in America that a number of the guys attended. They missed our normal serving line. We ended up giving away well more than half of the soup and all of the iced tea. The guys were very appreciative. They had made a difficult choice to go to this lecture and discussion, but had chosen long term edification and hope for progress over a hot meal. God used my absentmindedness to be the ram in the bush to provide for them and bless them for their wisdom.
“But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God has chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty.”
Last Thursday night was the first in three weeks that I was well enough to serve in the city. The people were so glad to see me. Alex examined me and noted that I still did not sound altogether well. He was right. A week later, I am still coughing. This is one nasty flu. We had a skeleton crew. The McGraws were out sick. Fr. Chris was the lone representative from Holy Annunciation. It was just Deacon Herman and me in the TKJ-mobile. Anthony was not there, because he was cleaning up after a mercy meal after a funeral for a long time volunteer for the soup kitchen at his church. A couple of the guys pitched in. I was even pressed into manual labor. I served hard boiled eggs, oranges and peanuts. I am much better as a gadfly. I don’t keep the line moving. Linda Notskas and a fellow, whose name I fail to remember, brought lots of clothes and blankets and gave them away from her car.
A self described “dangerous, badass n__ger” came up to me and started to talk about the sad state of affairs. He was a CPA, a graduate of the Wharton School of Business and he was 72. He was also very drunk. He was upset at the sight of so many homeless men, at the national debt, at the Wall St. banksters, at the persistence of racism, etc. I kept talking to him and tried to understand what he was saying, because I could sense his pain and I respect the path that he had taken in his life. He was not homeless. I grew up talking to my dad when he was very drunk, but my dad was a high functioning drunk. He could be coherent and rational. This man wasn’t. He stood in front of me carrying on irrational rants, while people had to step around him on uneven ground. Finally I had to ask him to move to allow a lady who was unsteady on her feet to come through. He just went away angry. I was disappointed that I could not comfort him or ease his pain.
I was hoping to dig into work on Friday after more than two weeks off being sick. I found that I was able to do some, but I was still pretty tired from the full day on Thursday. I started working on an article for this blog for TKJ’s 24th anniversary, which I finished on Saturday. We found out that The King’s Jubilee was chosen for the second week of the Lenten Almsgiving Cash Flash Mob and started promoting that. We are hoping for good participation in that tomorrow and blessings all around!
On Sunday, we were planning on getting up and going to church. I had missed two weeks and Bethann had missed one, because of this nasty flu that gave us each bronchitis. I woke up to Bethann sitting on the end of the bed telling me that she thought she was having a heart attack. I went downstairs and got aspirin and water and gave it to her. We got dressed quickly and drove to the ER. They put her on the monitor and her heart rate was wildly erratic. She has atrial fibrillation. They kept her and tried to get to the bottom of it. As I am writing this, she is in surgery having a pacemaker installed.
I finally have felt strong enough to start catching up on orders, then this happens. Thank God for Uncle John Haggerty. He and Ha Nguyen are making the icons while I am visiting Bethann at the hospital. Our daughter, April Smith, stepped in to make the soup for tonight. Serge Metelow and his daughter are making the vegetarian alternative and helping serve tonight. Brian Simpson is driving the TKJ-mobile. I am once again reminded of what the old preacher told me years ago, “Don’t think too highly of yourself. No one is indispensible in the Lord’s service.”
Tomorrow is the Almsgiving Cash Flash Mob for The King’s Jubilee. I haven’t even publicized an event on Saturday, February 23. There is a recital at Tabor United Methodist Church at 1pm put on by Kevin Paige and some of his music students, to benefit The King’s Jubilee. I hope to be there to present the work and the vision of TKJ. Please come if you want to learn more.
Many of you are old enough to remember that great comedy, news, spoof TV show TW3: “That Was The Week That Was.” This was one of those weeks that makes you evaluate and reevaluate everything. I don’t want to be that angry, old man who fought the system and still saw it all end in futility and confusion. I think, if we work together, even if we are weak alone, if our cause is righteous and we put our hope in God, we just may see progress. Pray for peace that the Gospel may go forward.
It is time to take The King’s Jubilee to the next level, if we really want to be serious about addressing the needs of the poor and homeless in Jesus’ Name. Please read on and prayerfully consider how you may participate in this life-changing ministry. Thank you!
We are on the cusp of something amazing! We have the opportunity of actually ending homelessness in Philadelphia! Ironically, it is because of the city’s crackdown and our lawsuit that makes this a possibility. But we need to step up to the plate. We need to seriously up our game! We cannot be a one day a week and sometimes on weekends ministry. Why should it be us? Because we have been working with these guys for nearly thirty years. They trust us. Relationship is the key to this puzzle.
Let me tell you some stories.
“Get me some help or die!”
I met Bob in the county jail. Then he was transferred to the State Correctional Institution at Graterford, which was the largest maximum security prison in the country at the time. He attended our Bible studies there. He kept his nose clean and was paroled in minimum time. I would see him around town, so he knew where I worked. He seemed to be doing OK. Then one summer day, about noon, he came into the architectural office where I was office manager. My desk was right by the back door. I was heading for my desk as he came in the back door holding a pistol in his pocket. He was high.
He told me I had to get him into a drug rehab today or he would kill me. He said he had tried and tried and they all had waiting lists and prerequisites. He was afraid if he waited, he wouldn’t want to, or he would overdose, or he would kill somebody. He just wanted to stop now. I tried to calm him down. I stayed amazingly calm. God’s grace was with me. It was almost like I was watching from outside myself, as he held the gun to my back. I explained to the receptionist that I would be taking the rest of the day off for a ministry emergency. No one ever saw the gun, and I never told them the story.
We walked to my car and I drove Bob to a private, drug, inpatient, rehabilitation center that I knew was equipped to deal with violent patients. The whole twenty miles there, he was pointing the gun at my side. I coached him as to exactly how he had to act to get in that day. He had to leave the gun behind. He could not threaten anyone else personally, but he had to present himself as someone who was an immediate threat to himself. If he were too subdued, they would not admit him. If he were too violent, they would arrest him. He complied. He was still high, but he followed the script perfectly. He was in a straitjacket and admitted within an hour.
His girlfriend came and retrieved his gun from my car. We followed up with visits to Bob while he was in rehab and after he was released. Bob got clean and sober and had another chance at life.
“I don’t believe in any of that God stuff, but you’re really special!”
Oscar would always make it a point to thank us for coming out to serve. He would sometimes observe the Philadelphia police treating us ill or the crack addicts acting up, being less than civil. He would ask me what made me come back again and again. I told him, “Jesus loves you and He compels me to be here.” Oscar would say, “I don’t believe in any of that God stuff, but you’re really special!”
We would see him off and on over a period of a couple of years. We would have a similar exchange most nights after talking about literature or history or the arts. He was about 50. He did not fit the stereotype that most people have for a homeless person. He was white, always clean and presentable, well read, sane. One night after our conversation, he surprised me. He said, “I thank God for you.”
I went home with tears in my eyes.
That was the last time I was to see Oscar. He died of a heart attack not long after that.
“The kingdom of God cometh not with observation: Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.” [Luke 17:21] The “you” is plural so this could be translated “the kingdom of God is among (or between) you.” The point is that the kingdom of God is not some event or happening or place that you can be the first of your friends to discover. It is not a social or political movement or worldly empire, although it can and will shake all of these to their foundations. The kingdom of God is among us. We experience the kingdom of God whenever we recognize a unique reflection of the glory of God in another person or it is so recognized in us by another. It can come as a fleeting flash of insight or last a lifetime of mutual care and forgiveness. It is what knits us together as brothers and sisters, knits our marriages together, ends our loneliness. This is personal, not institutional. This is messy and unpredictable. This cannot be programmed in or out. God will not be confined to our box.
All ministry is personal.
Every person we meet uniquely reflects something of the image of God. God sees something lovable and worth dying for in each and every person we meet. I instruct all of our volunteers to pray something like this: Lord, with each person I meet today, show me what it is about them that you love. I always follow up with the warning: Be prepared to have your heart broken when He starts to answer this prayer.
On Saturday, November 20, 2010, Alexander Bejliri, visited me at Grand View Hospital. Alex and I have known each other for almost 25 years. Alex has been homeless or in various rooming houses all of these years. He works as a dishwasher or odd jobs. Through the years, whenever I have been sick and had to miss going down to the street, he would call me at home to check in on me. With this illness, he was beside himself with concern for me, not being able to imagine what could have happened to me to keep me away for so long.
During my second hospitalization, he called me repeatedly to try to figure out how to visit me. I told him the name of the hospital and that it is in Sellersville, but there is no public transportation from Philadelphia to it. I asked him to pray for me. He told me that he went to Ss. Peter and Paul Basilica and prayed for me every day. He insisted that he needed to visit me in person. I thanked him for his prayers and said I would be discharged shortly. When I was hospitalized the third time, I ended up in ICU with my cellphone turned off and no non-family phone calls forwarded to my room. As soon as he discovered I was out of ICU and could receive visitors, he determined to make the trek. He took the train to Lansdale; then took the bus to the end of the line at Landis’ Supermarket in Telford. Then he walked five and a half miles to the hospital. Still, he did not sit down during his visit. He was amazed that I had a walker and needed to use it.
Even after all Alex had gone through to visit me, he was amazed that none of the homeless guys had visited me. He thought nothing of his sacrifice and care to visit me, but treated it only as what should be expected of a friend. He shook his head that I should be brought low like this after serving the poor for 25 years. I tried to assure him that God was using it for good. Since I was laid up, more people were getting involved in the ministry and taking on more responsibility. He said something that blew me away: “Others come and then don’t come. For 25 years you come and you serve the poor peoples. You come in the rain and in the snow and when the sun shines. We look for your face, your face, your face! We look for your face.”
The kingdom of God is among us.
I just can’t stop crying.
When Mayor Nutter’s decree prohibiting serving food to the homeless in the parks of Philadelphia was supposed to go into effect on June 1, I began to cry. I could not help it. I cried openly for over a week. I cried at the drop of a hat until we won our preliminary injunction to stop it. I was still down and depressed because the injunction only covered the four plaintiffs and was not final. I’m still not right. I was a mess on the witness stand. Politicians and lawyers play free and loose with so-called principles and points of law and rights, but we are talking about living, breathing, human beings, who have feelings, and bleed red blood.
Regardless of what the mayor says his intent was, to homeless people, it felt like a solid blow to the gut! People were saying, “Why does he hate us so?” “Why is he ashamed of us?” One even said, “I worked for his campaign and now he kicks me in the teeth like this?”
It was wrongheaded and it was hurtful.
When the homeless community in Philadelphia is hurting, I am hurting. Christ called me to serve them and has knit me together with them.
Out of this battle, however, we can rise like a Phoenix to actually hammer out a plan, working with the mayor and the city, to end homelessness in the city. I know we always will have the poor, but there is no excuse for them to be homeless. This is more than a money problem. There are trust issues. There are issues of reintegration into neighborhoods and families. Government can do money and property and social service nuts and bolts stuff. But it is not in a position to handle the trust and reintegration issues. By God’s grace, we at The King’s Jubilee are. So, we are coming to a place of healing and reconciliation to work together.
Where you come in:
This is where you come in. We won’t hold a gun to your back. We might make you cry. It definitely is personal! We need your support.
I have been trying to run a business, “Come and See” Icons, Books & Art, and a ministry, The King’s Jubilee, by myself. I started the business in 2000, hoping that it would take off and be able to support the ministry in such a way that I could be full time in ministry. That has not happened. I have had various health problems, some probably stemming from exposures on the street. Although, it could be that I am just too old to be moonlighting to this extent. At any rate, between health issues and ministry, I don’t do a very good job at the business, and I get cranky with customers.
I have consulted with several Orthodox priests in the Philadelphia area, and they support my vision. My time would be better spent being full time serving among the homeless, helping them to transition off of the street. We hope to acquire an operations center in Philadelphia for training of volunteers, for bicycle rebuilding, for job preparation for the homeless, a place to do laundry, and for counseling and prayer.
Bishop THOMAS is a strong endorser of this ministry and has joined us on the street on a couple of occasions. We do not receive budgeted support from any church or diocese. We depend on almsgiving and monthly pledges and live by faith. To this point, we have had 5 monthly donors for a base of support of $445. With that and random other donations, we deliver and serve over 1,000 meals in Jesus’ Name and provide other services.
We are looking for a thousand small donors who will pledge monthly support. Please pray and consider what you can give. One donor set up a regular donation with a direct transfer, avoiding credit card charges. You may wish to mail a check, or have us debit your account, or use Paypal. The Paypal Donate button is up on the right or you can get contact information here. Whatever you are comfortable with.
We are suggesting $10 or $20 per month.
May God bless you as you bless the poor and homeless in Jesus’ Name.
Anthony cheerfully helps us serve just about every Thursday evening. Recently, he graduated from the Community College of Philadelphia with honors, gaining Microsoft certifications. Last Friday night, he was riding his bicycle back to his spot, when he was hit by a car. The driver of the car did not stick around to see if Anthony was alright. It was a hit and run. Anthony’s bike was totaled. He knew his arm was pretty messed up, so he wrapped it up tight. The next day he went to the hospital. They kept him overnight until Sunday. Thanks to his quick thinking, he avoided having to have surgery. The bones were broken, but had stayed aligned. His face was pretty messed up as well, but no bones broken. Thank God.
Someone has already come forward with a bicycle for him, but it needs new rubber all around from having sat in storage for too many years. Also, he will need some money to get by until he can get back to work with both hands. So I am making a special appeal. Please use the Donate button to help buy new tires and brake pads and a lock for Anthony’s bike; and to help him get by until he’s mended.
I have been praying the Prayer of a Sick Person quite a bit over the last year, especially this summer. Since June 8th, I have had more days with debilitating migraines than without. I have experienced at least three incidences of strokes, the second two with multiple infarcts. I have been unable to do the work for “Come and See” Icons, since my eyesight and depth perception is unreliable. Even the computer work is painful. The business is about to go under, if it hasn’t already. The last Tuesday of August and the first Thursday of September, I coordinated The King’s Jubilee from a hospital bed using my cellphone. I was so grateful I could do that.
The first hospital roommate I had, thought he was being held against his will while people were ransacking his house. He broke free from his restraints and cornered a couple of nurses. They would get him calmed down and restrain and sedate him again. He would sleep for ten minutes, then he would go off again. This went on for seven hours, before they moved me out his room to a room at the extreme other end of the hall, at 4 am. I could still hear him screaming his wife’s name. He was in psychic hell. It is only by the grace of God that I am not in a similar condition. Lord have mercy.
Later that morning, I prayed the prayer above. When I got to the phrase: “let mercy and justice meet”, I thought not only of how I deserve hell and long for heaven (for that is truly what the prayer is asking), but that I also long for it for my tormented former roommate and for my current roommate who suffered a couple of seizures and doesn’t have health insurance, so isn’t going to get the follow up care he needs. He will probably be bankrupted for the rest of his life by the hospital bill on his credit report.
I began to seriously meditate on that phrase of the prayer. It seems, as a society, we crave justice. We want to see wrongdoers punished, the slothful poor, the immoral exposed. That is all just. And it’s all fine when it’s somebody else or somebody else’s child, or somebody else’s best friend. When it strikes closer to home, we seriously plead for mercy. Mercy is where just punishment is withheld. “Lord have mercy!” is the most oft repeated prayer in all our services and private devotions. We know that the Lord is just, but we aren’t asking for justice just yet.
The beauty of this prayer is that it is from the perspective of facing one’s mortality and final judgment and it is calling for God’s justice only to be met by his mercy. This is similar to what I pray for when I
pray “for a good defense at the judgment seat of Christ.” Christ stands in my place and satisfies the demands for justice. I am clothed in my white baptismal garment, hidden in Christ. Mercy is granted. Justice is satisfied.
The icon of the Falling Asleep of the Theotokos is the most apt visual representation of this concept. Mary died because of the fall of Adam. That’s justice. Jesus Christ is there immediately to carry her in his arms like a swaddled babe to life eternal in Glory! That’s justice and mercy having met. It is the hope of every believer hidden in Christ.
This prayer is not just about the sweet by and by though. We pray for the peace of the whole world; Lord have mercy! and the unity of all mankind; Lord have mercy!
As I continued my meditation, I realized that what I have been seeking for, longing for, and working for my whole adult life is to see mercy and justice meet. I want a second chance when I do wrong. I want to help the ex-offender safely get a second shot at life after he is released. I want to be delivered from my illness. I want to help addicts and alcoholics be dilivered from their illnesses. I want my family healed. We expand our family to include others who hope for the same. I want to survive a bad decision or two or three or 146. I want us to find a way to let people find their way forward even though they may have bet on the wrong horse in uncertain economic times.
The Lord told us that if we do not show mercy, we will not be shown mercy. So pray the Jesus Prayer with as long a rope as you want to, if you don’t give alms and still want to let children die because their parents can’t afford healthcare, well, Lord have mercy.
The King’s Jubilee is trying in small, tangible ways to share the mercy of God that we all truly crave with the poor and needy in center city and the prosperous and needy in the suburbs. It is truly “more blessed to give than to receive.” There is no point to prosperity, if you can’t use it to help someone else.
Be someone’s answer to prayer today. It is the tender mercies of God that lead men to repentance.
Cranford Joseph Coulter
director, The King’s Jubilee
O Lord Jesus Christ, our Saviour, Physician of souls and bodies, who didst become man and suffer death on the Cross for our salvation, and through thy tender love and compassion didst heal all manner of sickness and affliction; do thou O Lord, visit me in my suffering, and grant me grace and strength to bear this sickness with which I am afflicted, with Christian patience and submission to thy will, trusting in thy loving kindness and tender mercy. Bless, I pray thee, the means used for my recovery, and those who administer them. I know O Lord, that I justly deserve any punishment inflicted upon me for I have so often offended thee and sinned against thee, in thought, word, and deed. Therefore, I humbly pray thee, look upon my weakness, and deal not with me after my sins, but according to the multitude of thy mercies. Have compassion on me, and let mercy and justice meet; and deliver me from this sickness and suffering I am undergoing. Grant that my sickness may be the means of my true repentance and amendment of my life according to thy will, that I may spend the rest of my days in thy love and fear: that my soul, being helped by thy grace and sanctified by thy Holy Mysteries, may be prepared for its passage to the Eternal Life, and there, in the company of thy blessed Saints, may praise and glorify thee with thy Eternal Father and Life-giving Spirit. Amen.
please pray for me and to give the doctors wisdom to get to the bottom of these atypical migraines and strokes. I came to the hospital ER last night, because the migraine was not responding to the medication and I had symptoms with it that I had never experienced before.
Uncle John is making the soup for tomorrow. I am still looking for someone to drive theTKJ-mobile and lead the team. Please call me on my cellphone.
Thank you for your prayers.
Cranford Joseph Coulter
Cranford Joseph Coulter