soup and leaven

Today the soup kitchen opened, with a rush of activity, volunteers, and guests. There's some description of the place in this article about Eric, who I met through the Jesus Radicals discussion forum. (He's a little embarrassed about how favorable the article is.)

I had planned to mingle with the guests every day and eat lunch in the soup kitchen, but felt a little intimidated today. I'm not very comfortable in crowds. And the people waiting for lunch are in many ways strange to me (and I to them); I'm not sure how to approach them or if they even want me to try.

But I went anyway. And found a young dog tied up on the porch, so I petted her and then met her owner when he came out. Then I went inside and noticed Robert and Darcy, the couple who had showed up here this past weekend and eaten with us. So I asked how their weeked had been. And found out a pastor had put them in a motel for the past two nights, but now they were homeless again and the other shelters were all full.

We were planning to open our house for hospitality on Friday, in four days. But even then only women can live here (it makes the women feel safer to have no male guests staying in the house). That's what they had been told by another volunteer here.

But I wondered: What if they could both stay for the few days until we officially opened the house? I'm already sleeping downstairs, so I could be there for them if they need anything...

So I proposed this to Eric, Miranda, Andy, Florence, and Katie, and they seemed agreeable. It's not how things are normally done, but in this case it seemed possible. And all of us do want to welcome people when we can. So it looks like they have a place to stay tonight, and for a few more nights as well while they look for a more stable situation.

This situation made me think of my favorite kingdom analogy:

Jesus said, "To what shall I compare the kingdom of God? It is like leaven which a woman took and hid in three measures of flour, till it was all leavened." (Lk 13.20-21)
I'd like to be mixed in, and so help inspire and influence others to be more Christlike, more like the kingdom of God. Offer creative new ideas. Offer moments of courageous faith. Offer encouragement and challenge when facing difficult situations. Not in a way that involves worldly power or prestige, but mixed in with everyone else, even "hidden." So it is clear that the leavening and rising is God's work.