Class is in Session

Street Hope is a classroom for me as much as anyone else. Every week we arrive early to set up our Friday Night Drop In and this is always a hectic time. We get the coffee and snacks ready put table cloths out and set up the board games, all the while welcoming early comers. It can be a bit chaotic. A few years ago I got a bit irked with one of our community friends. She would come in and interrupt whatever I was doing or whatever conversation I was having and ask if I could give her a ride home afterwards. Finally I spoke a bit sharply to her and requested that it would be better if she acknowledged my personhood by first asking me how I was before asking a favour. Dutifully over the years she has remembered. Now she asks after my wellbeing and then asks for a favour. I noticed that lately I am getting as irked as earlier days because her salutation seems perfunctory and not at all sincere. I am learning that when I am feeling irked I am best to talk to God before I talk to people, and so we had a conversation that went something like this: “I’m upset because my friend’s greetings seem insincere and it feels like she isn’t concerned about me but only in what favour I can do for her!” “I know how you feel.” “What do you mean, Lord, You know how I feel?” “That is exactly how you treat me.”

I realized that it was true. All too often I want God’s grace (favour) but my acknowledgement of Him and his divine majesty, is mere formality lacking in personal connection. I rethought how irritated I had been and marvelled at God’s patience with me. I now repent of my presumption and I want to pay close attention that I am engaged in a personal relationship.

I might not have had this valuable conversation with the resultant life lesson had I not been in the Seminary of the Streets. My friend was instrumental in my learning. I also needed to take time to reflect or I might have rushed past an important growing experience.

Because I live in relationship with a community, in all its dysfunction and mess, I can move forward. If instead of in community I lived in ‘apartment’ I would miss such occasions. So I thank God for my community.

I also thank God for his calling to ‘intentional community’ which means that I intend to grow myself and others. This forces me to reflect on experiences and hear God’s voice through our communal experiences. The proverbs reflect this “As iron sharpens iron; so one person sharpens another.” My friend was a sharpening stone for me though she didn’t know it (until I told her). This gives me hope that I can be involved in ‘sharpening’ my friends, both intentionally but also unintentionally.

One key is that I move among my friends, in community, for it is easier for God to steer a moving car than one that is parked.


2 comments on “Class is in Session

  1. Hi Reed,

    I must tell you I was pleased that you have reminded me how easy it is to find faults with others even though they are the same faults I commit. And mostly to God. And thank you for the way you worded this message. It brought a smile to my face, knowing there are many others just like me, struggling with the same, human shortfalls, but also loving a God that understands us and continues to love us in spite of how we practice our hypocrisy at times.

    Regarding your earlier posting about the community gardens, let me know if you don’t reach your financial targets. I would like to help but I do not want to intrude on someone else that is feeling moved to assist. I particularly like the idea of the garden. It reminds me that not everyone has had the opportunity I had while growing up, having a mother that loved gardening and loved getting her kids involved in it. I would have to think there are many of the folks you deal with every day that have not felt the reward of planting seeds and seeing them turn into something useful with the requisite care and attention. And I would think that in the back of your mind there is a lesson or two developing how you will use this whole process to draw analogies to our own lives and spiritual growth with your friends at Street Hope.

    Lesley and I enjoyed your visit very much and are most pleased that we can be a part of your ministry, even at a distance.

    God bless you Reed,

    Doug & Lesley

    On Fri, Feb 28, 2014 at 4:54 AM, Reed Fleming

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