Yesterday Charlie and I preached at one of our congregations in the inner city. It’s one we had attended for several years before transferring to our current one. Charlie shared a drama of Moses, and I spoke to it.
The congregation is not a large one…and the people are not particularly pretty. They are people who struggle with criminal pasts, addictions of various types, violence…just what you can imagine in that kind of setting. But they are people who know that without God they cannot survive.
We met a young woman there–a very attractive young woman–who is 19 and who already has a number of years on the street (with all that implies). Part of the praise report yesterday was that she had just passed her 30th day clean…and that she has gotten her first “real” job. She is desperately wanting to make changes in her life–and knows she cannot do it on her own.
We missed a young woman whom we had known as a child. She would be in her teens now, and we asked about her. She has struggled with the pressure from the streets–and at this point is giving in to it. But…there was a senior high retreat last weekend, and she was offered the opportunity to go…and she took it. So there is hope there yet–and hope that she will be able to respond before she gets so involved in the life around here that she is bound by chains that are so difficult to break.
Our theme yesterday was “Praise God’s generosity.” Looking around that little congregation, one might wonder–where is God’s generosity? Not in necessarily having everything that folks want–or sometimes that they need…but in God’s constant presence, no matter what circumstances these folks find themselves in.
They are working to change their neighborhood…to end the cycle of violence…by taking baby steps–but they are steps forward. They might find themselves trapped between a rock and a hard place–as the Israelites did between the Red Sea and the Egyptian army. But just as Moses called them to move forward–to begin their journey of faith–so these folks are moving forward in faith. They are learning to trust a God they cannot see but who has promised to always–always–be with them.