One of the most challenging parts of doing ministry where I am, in an area where there are few social services reaching out to the poor, is that we happen to be one of the only churches who offer emergency assistance for the homeless and the needy. And part of the difficulty is in learning to continue loving even when the occasional person goes out of their way to take advantage of your generosity. Here's a poem/prayer I wrote after a particularly difficult interaction.
How to Be Twice Struck, and Still to Love
Lord, I have need of Thy compassion,
A heart to serve the poor.
But they, like all of us,
Are deceitful and unjust,
And my callused heart can't see beyond
Their bare mendacity of soul.
Let me see, as You do,
That vice like this is cause
For compassion, not offence,
The symptom of a brokenness
That calls for pity unchagrined.
Teach me, Lord,
How to be twice struck,
And still to love.
Note to My Readers: from mid-June to mid-August (6/18 - 8/20), I will be taking a summer break from posting new articles for my Thursday and Friday slots. This will only affect my Thursday series on the global growth of Christianity, and my Friday series, the "Theological Bestiary" of birds, both of which will resume in late August. During the summer, I'll be dusting off some of my best essays from the first few years of this blog (a decade ago), as well as my verse play "Thus Ends the World," and re-posting them in the Thursday and Friday slots. All other weekdays will continue to feature new material throughout the summer.