“Whatever your task, put yourselves into it, as done for the Lord and not for your masters (or not for humans).” Colossians 3:23
Ever since I discovered the book The Long Loneliness just before I went to Duke Divinity School, I’ve wanted to be Dorothy Day when I grow up. I admire the vision and work she did with the Catholic Worker Movement (setting up homes and farms for the unsheltered and disenfranchised) and she is one of my models for ministry.
She was visionary yet relational. She addressed the masses, yet made time for the individual. She saw the face of Jesus in the multitudes who came to her houses and farms for meals, shelter, clothing, and companionship. Her work continues for the glory of God 40 years after she left this life.
On the Bishop’s Journey in February, we stopped at a building that looked like any other in that neighborhood in Brownsville, TX, a city bordering Matamoros, Mexico. The only thing that made this building stand out from the neighboring buildings was a mural with the UMC Cross and Flame.
Good Neighbor is a respite center for those in the area who are unsheltered. During the time that many immigrants were coming across the border, Good Neighbor served 90,000 meals to anyone who needed them. Now, with changes in the immigration process, they see only a few immigrants a week, but they are poised and ready should changes come to the immigration system.
As we entered the premises, we were greeted by many of the clients and brought to the volunteer center. I was excited that I’d get to be working directly with those most in need. After a brief introduction, Daniella, a vibrant and passionate young lady, took us to our volunteer station. We would be sorting clothing… far away from the clients. Needless to say I was hoping this was a mistake. I was literally in a place doing the exact type of work that my role model, Dorothy Day, did… and my job was to fold clothes?
I begrudgingly sorted the clothes for a minute or two when God spoke to me. Who did I think would receive these clothes? If I were in their shoes wouldn’t I want a streamlined process so that my greater needs could be met? Even Dorothy Day writes about the monotonous holiness in doing God’s work.
Because of our schedule, I didn’t make a huge dent in the pile of clothes that needed sorting before we had to leave for our next destination. But I did make a small dent. God’s work is not completed by one person lest he or she becomes boastful. But through the work of all of us—the Body of Christ, the Church—we minister in important ways to God’s people.
A Prayer adapted from St Oscar Romero:
The present form of the world passes away,
and there remains only the joy of having used this world
to establish God’s rule here.
All pomp, all triumphs, all selfish capitalism,
all the false successes of life will pass
with the world’s form.
All of that passes away.
What does not pass away is love.
May we turn money, property, work in our calling
into service of others,
so that the joy of sharing
and the feeling that all are our family
does not pass away.
Make it so in our lives, Lord Jesus our loving Judge. Amen.
From the NC Council of Churches’ Ecumenical Immigration Alliance
To raise awareness this week:
Review immigration study guides, available from the NC Council of Churches.
To become educated this week:
Find information about the number of detentions and deportations happening in your community, and discuss with others the trends you are seeing.
To advocate this week:
Begin to advocate with neighboring immigrant churches in your community.
Tom Hallberg is a provisional elder in the North Carolina Conference currently serving at the Fair Promise-High Falls Charge in the Fairway District.