Among the people I follow on Twitter is an Anglican priest in Canada who goes by RevDaniel. He recently shared a story from his church that seems a good example of living out our theme for this year:
So a young guy with flaming red hair, nail polish, tattoos all over his face and dressed in pajama bottoms walked into the middle of our 8 a.m. service. He stayed for coffee hour and asked to stay for the 10 a.m. service too. He shouted “Amen” and wept throughout the service. When it was time for the renewal of baptismal vows, I asked him to help me with the asperges (he carried the water, which I sprinkled on the congregation). He stayed for the second coffee hour and chatted up a number of parishioners. He’s staying in a cube van, which he prefers to shelters. He doesn’t like to stay put in one place long. James and I went and bought him a sleeping bag, warm socks, and a warmer hat and gloves.
The thing I’m so proud of is how the congregation welcomed him without making him feel like a “project.” Parishioners who, a year ago, would have shifted uncomfortably in their pews helped him follow the service, and simply patted his arm supportively when he wept. They introduced themselves at coffee hour and introduced him to others. I was so proud of the woman who visibly steeled herself against her fear, walked over, shook hands, and asked if she could get him cake. She said, “Tell me about these tattoos. What do they all mean?” He pulled out his phone and asked if he could play her his favorite rap song. She patiently listened, smiling, and when he went to leave, he asked if he could give her a hug. Without hesitating, she hugged him and gave him a kiss on his forehead. As she left, she said, “I invited him home for dinner with us, but he said no.” Then she slipped some money into my hand and said, “Make sure he eats, and get him some decent gloves.”
“Thank you for what you’ve done for him” I said. She paused and said “Funny thing is, I feel like he’s given more to me. Is that strange?”