I am grateful to Jill Gabriel for sending me an article from the Atlanta News about the church
where her son’s family, Chris, worships. It is a wonderful story of faith and hope. Not long ago when crowds of protesters began to spread throughout downtown Atlanta they
approached Peachtree United Methodist. The crowd was angry and fueled by their rage, they sought affluent places to vandalize. Preachtree Methodist is a substantial property with millions of dollars worth of prime downtown real estate.
As the crowd approached the church something unexpected happened that saved the day. Five homeless men who had been sleeping on the front steps of the building stood up to stop the looters. They implored the crowd, “Please don’t destroy this church. It’s our home.” Somehow their bravery and clarity stopped dozens of people in their tracks and the would-be looters simply moved on. With heroic persistence these five men took on a crowd and risked their own safety for a church they loved. They believed in the church because it has believed in them. The Methodist Church serves them breakfast, gives them bus passes and offers them job counseling and clothes. Some of these men have been sleeping on the steps of the building for several years, so they do regard it as their house, as well as God’s house.
This story challenges assumptions we may make about the homeless but it also shines a light on the protesters. The protesters expressed their rage in ways that caused tremendous damage, but they also represent a populist movement that is full of idealism. They were not interested in taking something precious from these homeless men who have lost so much. The crowd respected them when the men declared that the church was their home.
This month our sermon theme is “Home”. This story from Atlanta tells about a church that has offered shelter to community members who fell on hard times and lost their homes. After the church opened their arms to embrace these less fortunate children of God, the men defended this church because it had become their new home. Makes you smile, on so many levels.