The cross, the car seat, and the homeless guy

18 11 2012

My friend, Al, told this story in church this morning. You see, the people in our congregation provide a meal for folks in our city who are lacking resources. I personally do not like the term “the homeless,” but that is basically the clientele. So Al said there is one guy who typically comes named O’Brien. I’ve seen him when I help serve the meals. O’Brien always has multiple layers of dirty clothes, topped by a winter coat, even when it is warm in the sanctuary. He stinks, and doesn’t talk hardly at all. On a few occasions O’Brien has gone over to a cross we have in the corner of the sanctuary and places objects at the base of it. I’ve seen him put part of his meal there and thought, Sheesh, doesn’t the guy even know we have trash cans in here?

So Al said that this habit used to annoy him since, as the one who would usually clean up the sanctuary and set up chairs, he used to get actually angry that this guy who was receiving church kindness would be so inconsiderate as to leave stuff on the floor by the cross. Well, Al noticed that last week O’Brien left more than food. He left a small infant carseat by the cross. This was too much I guess. So Al asked O’Brien what it was for. The homeless man said that last Monday he had been thinking about what he could bring to the church to give and he came across this infant car seat in a pile of free stuff. So he carried it around all week and brought it to the Friday night meal.

Al was rather transparent. He said that after walking with Jesus for over 25 years, serving as elder and worship leader, he had never once begun thinking on a Monday what he should give to the Lord on Sunday.

Then he said that the car seat was not the only thing O’Brien left. He also put the best part of the meal, the cinnamon roll, right at the base.

If you saw this young man you would cringe at the sight. Stained teeth where there were teeth. Matted hair hanging in his eyes.  In a world of his own–incommunicable and strange. Yet here he is, connecting with God in his own way. Sacrificing out of what he receives.

I don’t have a final punchline. But I am humbled, reminded that the cross is there for anyone.

Thanks O’Brien.


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