We continue our series on Radical Kinship this Sunday by looking at Radical Compassion. Last week we talked about how Judeo-Christian theology tells us to have a preference for loving and serving the stranger. When I think of strangers, I immediately think of the homeless, and the thousands of people without a bed to sleep in every night right here in LA County. It has been especially affecting to see them weather the rain we’ve been having, huddled at bus-stops, or inside sleeping bags, under trees, still getting wet. Knowing there are so few places to find shelter, what can we do to help?
We know it’s the giving season, when we are supposed to be generous. What if we don’t have the resources to be generous? If you have the resource of time, you can still make a hands-on difference with your presence. This Sunday I’ll be talking about a very special ministry I learned how to do in seminary, in 2001. Off and on throughout the years, I’ve offered the congregations I serve the opportunity to learn how to massage the homeless. This is a 15-minute massage sequence, with the recipient seated fully clothed in a chair. The massage works on the person’s shoulders, arms, hands, neck, and head.
It’s a ministry of presence that communicates, you matter. We care about you. We want to offer some relief from the pain of homelessness and isolation: a moment of peace. In January, on Thursday evenings of the 10th, 17th, and 24th, from 7 – 8:30 PM, I’ll be teaching a three week class about how to do this, along with the theology of radical compassion that goes with it. Then, shortly thereafter, our group will visit drop-in centers for the homeless in the North Hollywood area, including St. Matthews Lutheran church, with whom we are partnering on homeless issues in a variety of ways.
I look forward to telling you all about it this Sunday!
– Rev. Hannah