Last week, I opened my newspaper. It was Wednesday - one of my favorite days to open the newspaper pack because of the store ads. But this Wednesday was a little different. When I opened the paper, I found something a little unusual on the front page of The Washington Post. The front page had pictures of the usual suspects - Senator Obama and Senator Clinton. John Edwards was photographed beneath them. And then, at the very bottom of the front page, there was a picture of me in front of the church's office trailer and construction project, along with an article on churches that are developing their property.
I have been in the newspaper several times since arriving at Mount Vernon Place. Never, however, have I been on the front page. Needless to say, it was an exciting day - a day on which I bought newspapers at 7-11, Starbucks, Dunkin' Donuts and CVS before dropping lots of quarters and dimes into several newspaper machines around the city. I also heard from a lot of people last Wednesday - people I have not heard from in a long time. It was great. I loved it! I loved it until one night this week.
On Sunday evening I was leaving the church. It had been a long day, and the sun was starting to set. I was walking through a small park in front of the church when a man stopped me. The man is someone I see often. He often dwells in the neighborhood - sitting in this park or on the benches outside the place where we are currently worshipping. He always has something to say - though he has not and will not tell me his name. Instead, he comments on what I am wearing or what I am doing. This time he said, "Front page news, huh?" He then proceeded to ask how a church could ever spend so much money when there are so many people just like him - people who are homeless and living in the streets. "What are you going to do for me?"
His question haunts me.
I think often of the endowment that could have been created with the money we are spending on the restoration of the church and the building of another space. It is a huge amount of money.
Still, I get excited every time I go inside the church and see the work that is being done. I think often about all of the amazing ministries that will take place inside the building. I imagine lots of people coming together for a meal or a cup of coffee. I visualize people's lives being transformed through small groups and Bible studies. I think of the different kinds of worship we can have - in a small chapel, a huge sanctuary, a theatre, and a fellowship hall. It is going to be fantastic space - space that will enable people to celebrate God's presence, grow in faith, connect with one another, serve the community and share the good news. I cannot wait!
I also cannot stop asking the question, "What are we going to do for him?"