Deborah and I spent several days in Los Angeles over last weekend with a street ministry group- singing and handing out CD’s and chatting with people… Somehow I landed the job as journalist for the group.. The following is several excerpts from the journal. Apologies to those of you who will be receiving this later.. 🙂
I watched out the van window in amazement, as we turned off the interstate and headed for downtown. Tents began to dot the sidewalk , interspersed by mounds of tarped belongings. Grocery carts filled with stuff were parked here and there, rain drenched clothes from the night were a soggy presence on all the nearest fences.
My focus shifted from looking at “the stuff” to looking at the people… Seated on the hard concrete, or ambling around, some formed little groups, chatting with their neighbors, some are involved with seemingly imaginary conversations.. And my heart cried..
“Oh God! Look at these poor people! Destitute, hungry, lost… Victims of their own choices… Street smart, yet so vulnerable… At the mercy of the weather… Please make a way for them…Can you imagine how hard their life must be? ”
“I was homeless, my daughter… If anybody knows about cold nights, incredible storms, hunger, scorn, rejection… My ministry was that. These people have made choices that led them here. I chose too. I left all the comforts of Heaven- For YOU! I gave up everything to come to this sin cursed earth- so that you might have life-more abundantly.. I am calling people to a higher calling. And I need you-to be my hands and feet. I gave my all for you, I promise to provide for you. Trust me with your future. How much will you give for me?”
“I heard there was a secret cord… That David played and it pleased the Lord, but you don’t really care for music, do ya? It goes like this- the fourth, the fifth- the minor fall, the major lift, the baffled King composes “Hallelujah… Hallelujah… Hallelujah..” The clear notes of a violin wafted through the air… Bringing instant recognition… The shaggy haired performer was putting his heart into the music… The song talks of David’s repentance after he’d fallen.. “It’s a cold and it’s a broken Hallelujah.. Hallelujah.. Hallelujah.” The shopper scurried past, arms laden down with purchases… Up among the shops, the balloon artists, different music group, and as always- the beautiful palm trees… Passed where our group was caroling… And my mind imagines…
“The little lady, weary from the struggle, back bent from carrying the weight of the world on her shoulders, gets off the bus at beautiful Santa Monica. She’s not really sure why she came out today… Maybe it was the fact that she still had Christmas shopping to do… Maybe it was that her poodle needed a walk (there certainly is lots of that going on) Or maybe it was just that she needed to get out of the house… Her attention is drawn to a group of singers… “Oh come, all ye Faithful, Joyful, and Triumphant…” The song is familiar. She listens a little before moving on… They seem so innocent. Naive really, Life is anything but Joyful- And faithful is certainly a term of the past… She has seen so much hurt in her lifetime. She’s let down those closest to her. Experienced Rejection time and again. Her life is a graveyard of shattered dreams… Merry Christmas indeed… Enshrouded by her thoughts she continues to walk, maybe the fresh air will do her good.
Then she hears the violinist… And it clicks.” A cold and a broken Hallelujah” Like King David, she’s made some huge mistakes. And though she wishes she had a chance to redo them- that’s not possible. But it’s time to lay the past down. “Can’t you give it to me?” She hears Jesus whisper, “That’s what this season is about- I came to this earth- for you. All I require is for you to believe. Give your heart to me, your painful past, your uncertain future, I died for you. I love you..” And right there on that crowded street, she says “Yes” for the first time.
As she walks back past the carolers, she pauses again.. “Oh come let us adore Him, Oh come let us adore Him, Christ the Lord..”
And with adoration she whispers “Hallelujah..”
As I flew across the US, my mind tried to come up with a summary of our time. What is our motive? Why spend hours stretching your vocal chords, pushing yourself until you are exhausted? Why make the effort- to take time off of work, spend the money, etc? So I pondered..
An Asian lady moved to the back of the plane where our group of 6 were having a debriefing, rehashing our highlights, and somehow she got involved with our discussion and said “Y’all were the group singing at Santa Monica, weren’t you? I heard you and I really enjoyed the music!”
As we got off the shuttle at our vehicle, each of us thanked the driver and said “Merry Christmas” and he replied “Happy Holidays” Six times.
And there, I had my answer. Well at least part of it. Christmas is under attack. Not only is it snowballed by the busyness of the season- but it’s in danger of being completely obliterated as a secular holiday, forgetting the birth of Christ. Happy Holidays and Merry Xmas- they say.
There’s no way to tell how many people heard us sing. Our travel mate was from who knows where and she is one of many. I smiled at the number of phones were pulled out and recordings made- with the knowledge that we would be on Facebook, Instagram, Path and all other forms of social media. And that blesses me. Through a simple form of song… We gladly proclaim:
“Go tell the News, the Blessed Gospel News, A Savior lives, a King is born! Go tell the News the Blessed Gospel News- Oh Praise His Name- A King is Born!!!”
Merry Christmas, Everyone!!! Blessings,
While Deborah and I were out in LA, the home-folks were designing their own gingerbread combine.. Lets go Harvest 2015!! 🙂
I enjoyed a very exotic evening in Arlington with some friends… Took in Handel’s Messiah at the Kennedy Center and ate dinner at the Historic Gadspy’s Tavern- which was frequented by George Washington… Anyhow- I was just blessed by the thousands of people who came out to listen to Old Testament prophecy… What a wonderful opportunity!