For the poor shall never cease out of the land: therefore I command thee, saying, Thou shalt open thine hand wide unto thy brother, to thy poor, and to thy needy, in thy land.
Deuteronomy 15:11 (King James Version)
I hope everyone has had a blessed Thanksgiving and are taking the time to relax.
Yesterday my wife, son and I were helping to feed the neighborhood people- especially those who have nowhere to go to or no-one to share with. We were at my sister and her husband’s church in Jersey City where he is the pastor.
Before we started to eat, my brother in law had everyone-volunteer and guest- say their name. As I was listening to the names mentioned, I felt the Holy Spirit touch my mind…
They all have names!
I realized that those who came in weren’t just faces passed by on the street. These were people who had names… and as I shared this with my brother-in-law, he told me that there are stories behind those names. As I went through my day interacting with those who came through the church doors, the above thought went though my mind over and over.
God revealed to me that the poor, the marginalized, those who have nothing or no one all have names and stories. And if we take the time to open up our churches, homes and hearts to our brothers and sisters we will learn about them in ways we never knew possible.
Tonight’s Scripture has God giving the Children of Israel “Final Instructions” for their new lives in the promised land of Canaan through Moses. One of these instructions is to “open their hand”-to give and care for the poor and needy among them. Those instructions apply to us today as they did back in the day. And you note, God says, “thy brother” as if He/She humanized the poor-gave them names and stories that belong in the greater narrative of us.
Not just for Thanksgiving, not just for Christmas, but for every day. We need to remember the poor, the needy, and the marginalized need us to open up to them. They have names and stories we need to acknowledge since they are our brothers and sisters. They are us in a different form and place.
They all haves names. Let’s remember that. Peace!
(Image: Halsey Street Festival in Newark, NJ: September 7, 2017)