Winter Storm Jonas

I am sitting in my New Hope home office watching the “Jonas” blizzard drop 18 inches or so of snow. Who picks these names? I have been instructed by state officials to stay off the roads and stay indoors. I do couch really well.

Unlike other years and other storms I have some new things on my mind these days. First, it has been six weeks since our friends Jane and Ian passed. These are the kinds of days we will miss them most. By now Jane would have called to check in, plans would have been made to create a meal and violate state instructions and gather – most likely at their house. It is way too quiet now.

I have also had some time to reflect of the turnout of the community for their service and the number of individuals they knew and touched. If anything, I hope those of us who gathered recognize the power of community and the lesson that in a flash our lives can change. Out of our sadness, I can honestly say I live life with more passion today than I did – and I certainly pay more attention. My challenge is with time, not to let that wane.

My other thoughts turn to those for whom this weather is particularly harsh. At ECS we picked up on January 1st responsibility for Winter Shelter in partnership with Trinity Memorial Church at 22nd and Spruce Streets. Winter Shelter houses some 20-30 men from November 1st through April 1st. We partner with Bethesda Project in this work. Yesterday I got an email asking if the men could shelter in place today rather than go out and return the following night. Given the weather the answer is of course yes; my reflection is why in Philadelphia and the USA is this even a question?  The contrast between our lives and those on the street is blunt and harsh and not just in a blizzard.

The numbers on poverty and homelessness in Philadelphia and the region are unacceptable. Where is the community that came together with Ian and Jane’s passing for the homeless and hungry? Where is the community that never knew them? It is easy to pass through a storm when you have a home, what if you do not? I know the issues are complex … mental illness, poverty, employment, education, addiction, abuse. It is easy to get overwhelmed and look the other way. Let us look to Bishop Curry’s recent remarks on the Anglican Communion.

“Our commitment to be an inclusive church is not based on a social theory or capitulation to the ways of the culture, but on our belief that the outstretched arms of Jesus on the cross are a sign of the very love of God reaching out to us all. While I understand that many disagree with us, our decision regarding marriage is based on the belief that the words of the Apostle Paul to the Galatians are true for the church today: All who have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male or female, for all are one in Christ.”

“For all are one” has to be our call to action here. If indeed we are all one then we need to be all in on the major issues of our day. Complacency and looking the other way gets nothing done, but allows the problems to grow and eventually consume us. As members of a community you are accountable to that community. As I sit here on a snowy day and reflect I know I need to do more; dare I say “we”?

All One, All In.