Mother Teresa once said, “I see Jesus in every human being. I say to myself, this is hungry Jesus, I must feed him. This is sick Jesus. This one has leprosy or gangrene; I must wash him and tend to him.” If Mother Teresa is correct that we encounter Jesus in the neediest of humans, then Jesus came to church the other day.
I did not witness the event, but a member of our staff and another Bethel member told me what happened that Sunday morning. They first saw the man sitting on the bench at the back of the church. He was wet, muddy, and disheveled. Homeless, he had slept in a snow bank next to the church the night before. When he heard the sound of worship music he made his way into the building.
The woman who first spoke with him said that his appearance was off-putting, and yet she experienced within her a welling up of Jesus’ love for him. She went over to talk to him. Someone prepared him a cup of coffee. Others scrounged to find leftover cheese and crackers in some fridge or other. Two bags of foodbank groceries were eventually gathered and given to him. One of our deacons arranged for him to stay at a shelter, then drove him to where he could find a bed for the night.
A very touching part of this story occurred when the man indicated that he was too weak to make it to the vehicle waiting to take him to the shelter. The elderly Bethel member who first spoke with him put an arm around him, and supported him on his way to the waiting van. He spoke to her of his fears—he saw demons, he said—and this Bethel member told him that he need not fear demons if He has Jesus. She took off the silver cross she habitually wore around her neck and gave it to him.
She returned to the church, with her Sunday clothing soiled from having supported the man as he walked. Her dress was dirty but her heart was full.
Jesus came to Bethel, and he found a welcome here.
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