Chicken & Cigarettes - Pt. 10 - Frank & Emily  

Posted by Ben in

To those of you who have been reading these, thank you for enjoying as i have shared my experiences. This post concludes my series journaling my trip to Baltimore. I have been working in a Chronological order of events, but this post will break that. This story touched my heart beyond measure, I hope it does the same to you. I pray you will press into finding Christ in the unlikely places, the lowly things, the foolish things. I hope you will be open to the Spirit's humbling and teaching. Enjoy...

...I had left for a few minutes to go take a call while Galen and D'Andre passed out the pizza to those in the park. As I came back from around the side of the church, a man said "thank you so much for the pizza, are you going to have some?" I responded by saying "no, thank you. I am actually fasting today." The man replied by saying "God Bless you!" I walked around the park soaking in the sights and sounds, the joy. I was smiling uncontrollably when i looked over and saw Galen sitting down at a park bench at the far end of the park. He had handed a couple slices of pizza to the woman who was laying on the park bench. Another man had taken the pizza from him and proceeded to finish handing it out, since Galen was at this point engaged in conversation. I made my way over to him, analyzing the sight. He was not only sitting on the dirty ground, talking to this older lady who was sitting on a park bench, he was positioned at her feet. Why is this significant you ask? In Scot McKnight's book, The Jesus Creed: Loving God, Loving Others,
he identifies the position of Mary while Martha was running around the house preparing dinner. He shows that Mary was in the presence of Jesus, sitting at his feet. Scot points out that Disciples of any teacher are usually spoken of as having "studied under" the teacher or "studied at the feet" of a certain teacher. He shows us that in the Jewish culture at this time, the disciples would literally sit around a room on the floor while the teacher (in this case Jesus) would sit in a chair and teach. This positioned the disciple to look up at the teacher, and in a posture of ready to receive. He explains that in our walk as a disciple of Christ, a disciple is one who sits at the feet of Jesus. Galen had this position to this woman.

I came up and joined Galen on the dirty ground and listened as this woman thanked us for the pizza and asked us what we were doing in the park. She told us her name, Emily Dodd. She told us her story.

She did not have much education. She had lived decently most of her life, her husband was a Marine, James Dodd I believe was his name. He sailed on an American ship and would be gone from time to time. They never had a lot of money, but never needed for anything either. Well, James had passed away about 5 years ago, leaving Emily, who'd not had a job and was physically unable to have one at this point, without much. She said she "bounced around from place to place, and eventually found herself there, in the park."

She was still collecting a small sum of money from the government for her husband's pension, though this was not much to speak of. She was now 72 and had many physical ailments. As one can imagine, the outside is not a nice place for a 72 year old woman, and a park bench does not do well on already old and aching bones and joints. She was actively looking around for a place in the city that would suit her income, but hadn't had any luck so far. It was amazing listening to her talk about her husband, you could tell it was so nice to have someone listen to her, listen about this wonderful man whom had meant the world to her. Everything became real when he had a name, had an occupation. He was not simply some woman's husband. He was James Dobb, he was a mariner on a U.S. Marine ship. He was a real person. She too was more than a woman on a park bench. She had a real story, a real past, real pain.
We prayed with her. We thanked God for having met her, and we prayed that she would be able to find a place which would suit her income. We prayed that he would touch her aching joints, especially her very bad knee. She prayed and thanked God for having met us, and for our kindness. Such an undeserved, humbling prayer.

As we finished praying, we talked some more and shared life together. As we were there talking, a man came up and dropped a bag in her lap. The man was somewhat taller and had not shaved in a very long time. You could tell he was most likely homeless as well. She said "Oh thank you! What is this?" In the bag was a piece of fried chicken and a sandwich.

He immediately responded by saying "don't thank me, thank God. He provided for me, so i'm providing for you!" My stomach twisted as tears began to form in my eyes. My heart began to beat fast as I looked over to Galen who was smiling at me with the same look in his eyes.

She asked the man why she had earned such favor and what his name was. He did not oblige her with the knowledge of his name, for he said his name did not matter, it was God who deserved thanks, not him. He proceeded to tell her that while they were downtown sometime the other day, he had seen her and asked her for a cigarette.

"When i was in need, you helped me and God has put it on my heart that as long as i trust him to provide for me, that i am to provide for you. If i do so, God will be faithful to provide for me. God does not bless us for our own good, but so that we can bless others. I came across a bit of fried Chicken and a sandwich. I could have eaten it all, but i didn't need it all, and God commanded the Israelites not to take more manah than they needed, but to trust God to provide the next day. If i am faithful to bless you and not keep it all for myself and trust God to provide, He surely will"

Such is the hope of the Gospel! Israel was a blessed nation so that they might bless the world with the knowledge of HaShem, El-Shaddai, the Living God, YHWH, their deliverer and the deliverer of all mankind.

We who are blessed with the knowledge of Christ and with the love of Christ are to be a blessing to others with the knowledge of Christ and the love of Christ. As Scot McKnight states in one of his blogs, "...ties together the Bible around the theme of God’s redemptive work — anyone who reads the Bible and doesn’t talk about “salvation” is wiping out the big idea."

This redemptive work of salvation does not speak of "going to heaven." It speaks of the redemption of all of creation, especially mankind, from the fall and affects of sin, through the power, knowledge, and love of the redeemer God, ultimately ending in an eternity spent with Him in a world where creation has been completely restored. The Gospel is the realization of God's work in human history. The death and Resurrection of Christ and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit restored man's relationship with God and gave man access to God. This gives us power over sin through the Holy Spirit, the power to defeat sin in our lives, the power to share the love and knowledge of Christ, and the power to be the hands and feet of Christ to work to defeat the affects of sin on God's world in our lives, present in such places as AIDS/HIV, pornography, addictions, poverty, abuse, violence, and pollution which all destroy the world, and personal sin which destroys the individual as well as the community. When we are blessed, it is so that we might bless others and be a part of this redemptive work.

We like to talk about this in classrooms, in church sanctuaries, in youth groups, over coffee, and over communion. These are great places, and I hope God meets us there. But here it was, the Gospel alive, working and moving in front of me in the form of chicken and cigarettes.

We had gone to Baltimore to be love, to love others, to share Christ with others, to be Christ to others. We did not expect to meet Christ on the streets of Baltimore. When was the last time we invited someone to the dirty street to meet Christ? When was the last time we met Christ in Chicken and Cigarettes? Christ and His Gospel span all demographics, all lines of age, wealth, social class, denomination, race, sex, vocation. It is available to all peoples, in all places. You don't have to go to a church to find Him. You can meet Him where you are. He is alive in the work of the hands and hearts of His people. He is at work through a couple loaves of bread and a few fish, and through chicken and cigarettes.




This entry was posted on Monday, July 14, 2008 at 12:09 PM and is filed under . You can follow any responses to this entry through the comments feed .

2 comments

Wow, I had to think whether or not I would've just eaten the chicken knowing I might not eat again for awhile. Oh, ye of little faith. I believe, help me with my unbelief!

We serve an awesome God. I've really enjoyed hearing your stories, Ben....He truly is everywhere. Thanks for sharing.

Okay, God. I pray that I will be Jesus to all that I cross paths with everyday.

July 14, 2008 at 2:17 PM

Well said.

November 11, 2008 at 3:22 AM

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