Chicken & Cigarettes- Pt. 7 - Angels Named Anthony  

Posted by Ben in

We walked around the harbor for about two or three hours before it became too tiresome to carry our belongings much more and our feet began barking at us. It was only May, so the night air brought with it cooler temperatures. In fact, it hadn't been all too hot since about three in the afternoon. Galen and I took a seat outside of the National Aquarium's Dinosaur Exhibit. We spoke of our day, of the joy and the great things. We talked of the pains we'd met in people throughout the day. We dreamed together of a day when people will no longer need or want for anything, because everyone will love each other enough to provide. A world where Capitalism doesn't work and Communism is not necessary. A world based on God's economy, a world I believe is here for us to participate in. We talked about how we'd experienced God's presence with us through the day and we told each other of how blessed we were to have so much. We dreamed for our individual futures, where God would lead us with girls, what family might look like. We did life together sitting on a chain lining the sidewalk, looking up at a Tyrannosaurus Rex. We finished with a smile and decided we should be on our way back.

We got within a couple blocks and could see the old boiler tower which was just across the road; this was the sign we were close. Close to home. As we came into the park we were greeted by a man who was holding a newspaper.

"Hey, did you guys see this?" he exclaimed, pointing at the cover story of the Baltimore Sun. There was a sorrow in his voice which was unmistakably clear.

We hadn't any time to figure out what he was pointing at or why before he grabs our shoulders and goes "hey, i heard about what you all did today with the pizza and all and how you have been here spending time with us in our park. People have been talking a lot about you all. You are angels." I have never wanted to laugh so hard, but i knew what he meant, and it meant a lot to me. I am certainly no angel, just a pitiful man trying to follow Jesus but it touched my heart to know that we had done such a small thing and it had meant so much to people.

Anthony proceeded to show us that his photo accompanied the cover story of the newspaper under the headline "City makes agreement with local church to help homeless." I felt it was hopeful, and my first reaction was excitement. My eyes were quickly opened to the reality of the situation, one I'd never thought of before. He told us of how he had once been a successful student in school, as well as a hard worker with a good job. He told us he graduated high in his class in high school and went on to receive a degree from college. For his picture to appear on the front page labeling him as homeless was, to say the least, embarrassing. He said "I have friends, what are they going to think when they see me like that? Oh, how it hurts."

His words pierced my heart as i realized the problem is bigger than we think. I always knew they were "human" and needed to be "loved" and treated like "human" more often than we do as a society. However, i realized that there is a greater picture to God's redemptive work and story. You see, God's kingdom is not only one where riches pass and poverty ends, where brotherhood is found, and everlasting joy and love are the characteristics. God's Kingdom does not only yearn in this world that all "have homes," in fact i believe that to believe it in these terms is to be completely un-biblical. Jesus' ministry shows us that God's dream is not for "homes," but for dignity. God's Kingdom is one of restoration, where those on the margins of society are restored to their proper place at the center of society as loved and honored members of the blessed community. It does not simply give them a home, or sight, or stop their bleeding, or make them speak, or cast out their demons, or make them get up and walk, it is a Kingdom where their dignity is restored.

When Jesus healed the woman of her bleeding, she was no longer unclean. When Jesus healed the leper, he touched him, he felt him as human, and the leper could now go back into the walls of the city and join his people. When Jesus healed the Demon Possessed Naked Guy (DPNG) of his "legion" of demons, that man was able to enter the city once again, in fact he preached the GOOD NEWS to TEN DIFFERENT CITIES! When the crippled man's friends lowered him through the roof of the house, Jesus did not make him able to walk first, no, he said "you're sins are forgiven," restoring to him his dignity and ability to be a member of society.

This is God's dream that we are to work for here, not a simple, worldly idea of everyone "having a house."

We prayed with Anthony that God would heal his disabilities which had been the cause of his inability to work over the past years, and that God would heal his heart and hurt. We prayed that God would restore his dignity, and we thanked God for the city's intents to help those in need. We prayed that God's reconciliation would be at work in Anthony's heart so that he might see the good intentions of the reporter, and forgive her for using his photo and bringing shame to him. We prayed that the reporter would catch God's vision of restoration and her heart would become aware of the affects of using such a photo in such a way without permission. We thanked Anthony for teaching us, and for his kind words.

It was cold that night but we had many layers on and we thought we'd be alright. Anthony asked us if we had blankets. We responded with a no, but assured him that we had enough layers. He in turn assured us that we did not and gave us each one of his. It was only about 45 degrees that night and i don't know what i would have done without that blanket.

And he said we were the angels...

This entry was posted on Sunday, July 13, 2008 at 2:05 PM and is filed under . You can follow any responses to this entry through the comments feed .

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