Chicken & Cigarettes- Pt. 6 - Jesus' Neighborhood  

Posted by Ben in

poverty is so hard to see
when it’s only on your tv
and twenty miles across town

where we’re all living so good
that we moved out of Jesus’ neighborhood
where he’s hungry and not feeling so good
from going through our trash
he says, more than just your cash and coin
i want your time, i want your voice
i want the things you just can’t give me
- Rich Young Ruler by Derek Webb

The prospect of sleeping on a park bench is not nearly as inviting as one might think, though you may not even think it to be inviting. To think of doing so from our warm beds is hard enough, but to stare a park bench in the face and realize that's the best you are going to get for the night, and it is truly going to happen, is downright depressing. I can't imagine doing it every night.

So, with the sun making it's way towards the horizon and the cooler air setting in, Galen and I decided to do some walking around the city. We hoped this would tire our legs, feet, and joints out enough that we could get to sleep rather quickly. We headed into the Harbor and went sight-seeing.

For those of you who are not as familiar with the East Coast, Baltimore is a port city which sits directly on the Chesapeake Bay. It is similar to Chicago in that as you move into the harbor (such as towards Lake Michigan) the city continually gets more exciting. So we took a walk into the harbor and it didn't take long to see what I was not looking for. A divide. I know this blog seems like a simple point to make that doesn't need to be made, but i was just in awe.

We walked downtown and saw person after person wearing the newest fashions, walking into and out of fine restaurants, and laughing while enjoying each others' company. I don't propose that these things are bad, in any way, i was just blown away by walking into a different world. We walked through a beautiful city on an early summer night, saw beautiful buildings, beautiful people, and just realized that we were not at home. We saw a few beggars, and met a man who was homeless and spoke with us for quite a while on our way back to the park. All we really understood from his was "you have three and then one goes down the hole and you have two." We weren't sure what he was talking about or what you had three of, but we did learn that there was a strip club we should go to just down the road. I wouldn't call this a fruitful conversation, but we tried. Everyone else seemed to walk by him as though he was invisible. You saw how out of place these needy people were in a world of affluence, and there were so many in need just a few blocks down the street.

I don't mean to say our economic well-being is bad, in fact quite the opposite, i wish that for those in the park. What i am saying is I long to see a day and a world where the world of the rich seems conscious of the sufferings of those without. As Shane Claiborne says in his book The Irresistible Revolution, "I long for the suburbs of Chicago to meet the slums of Calcutta. For I truly believe that when the poor meet the rich, riches will mean nothing, and when the rich truly meet the poor, we will see an end to poverty."


What if every time we passed someone begging us for money, it was Jesus in disguise?

This entry was posted on Saturday, July 12, 2008 at 11:48 PM and is filed under . You can follow any responses to this entry through the comments feed .

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