Steven Weir invites us to spend time with those at the centre of God's Kingdom.
Barefooted children happily chased each other through a maze of tight, tangled alleys lined with fragile, pieced together shelters. Young women bathed as modestly as possible at a community water point, and young boys swam in from the ocean that serves as the toilet.
This was my first visit to a fisherman’s village during my first month as a Habitat for Humanity International partner in Sri Lanka. I was trying hard to ask intelligent questions while my mind attempted to sort through a reality that was unimaginable.
“You must be a very important person,” a young man said to me through our interpreter.
“Not really,” I responded. “Why do you think that?”
“Because you are wearing a watch,” he replied. “Someone must be expecting you, and it is important that you are on time.”
Twenty years later, I often think about that man in the fisherman’s settlement, who, even if he could have afforded a watch, had no reason to wear one because he did not feel he was important enough to anyone. I am reminded of how Christ experienced and lived a different reality.
• Jesus sat with, ate with and lived with the most marginalized in society.
• The ruling elite and religious faithful completely missed not only God’s message through Christ, but also God incarnate among them in the person of Christ.
• Christ saved His harshest rebuke for those with power, position and prestige — for people like each of us — like Habitat.
Easter is the culmination of a gospel message that urges us into a new way of seeing — through a new way of being. Several biblical texts explain this new way of being: “the gate is narrow…,” “it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle…,” and “the last will be first….”
I wonder if God needed to send His Son to be sacrificed to get our attention, to shock us into the depth of God’s love for us. Could it be that the bridge that is needed to reconcile us to God is not because God was unable to reconcile with us, but because we were unable to even see the need and to imagine a process for reconciliation?
God’s sacrificial grace is unimaginable, as foreign to me as that fisherman’s settlement. Perhaps the watch we need is one that reminds us it is time to see the reality of the world as God sees it. If the last 10 calls on our cell phones are to people who look just like us, then we need to question how successful we are at seeing the world differently.
Prayer: God, let me see the world as You do and act in ways that reflect the reality of Your unimaginable grace. Today, help me to make time to engage with those at the center of Your Kingdom. Amen.
1. Read Isaiah 58:1-3 and 5-10 and also Acts 4:34. How can Habitat for Humanity support the church in helping to ensure that there will not be a needy person among us? What is our responsibility as individual believers?
2. What is one thing you can do during Lent to begin living into an authentic relationship with people marginalized in your community?
3. When you have tried to help someone who is marginalized or poor, how did your approach help both you and that person overcome a poverty of being, a poverty of community and a poverty of stewardship?
4. In order to “see” the systemic barriers that the materially poor face in our community, consider asking a fewof them what the biggest challenges are to becoming more “resilient” when unexpected expenses occur. What could you or your faith community do to begin to help change the systems?
By Steven Weir, Vice President of global program development and support for Habitat for Humanity International, based in Atlanta.
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