During our weekly walks, Brother Jim must answer these questions repeatedly:
“Where is your Church?”
It is very confusing for the residents of Back of the Yards to understand that Brother Jim does not have a church, and does not preach anywhere on Sundays. His sermons are his actions, and he preaches each Wednesday by walking the streets. This past week made that a bit more obvious.
It had started out as a less than ideal walk. Few people were out on porches and most asked for rosaries and bracelets without too much additional conversation. We made our weekly trip to a young mother who continues to suffer and remains paralyzed in her poverty. There was no good news. Walking away, the mood was dim. Clouds were threatening our walk and a few raindrops struck the pavement below our feet.
As we rounded the corner on a parking lot filled with peddlers, drug dealers, and other wanderers, things began to change. We were welcomed with open arms and firm handshakes. One man in particular strolled right up:
“Hey guys, have we prayed yet?” For the past few weeks, individuals had been asking for prayers in this parking lot with increasing desire. I replied that we had not, and he joined in the conversation.
About ten minutes, later, he asked again: “Man I really have to go; can we get this prayer going?” Without hesitation, the guys in the parking lot, on their own initiative, all linked hands and circled up for prayer time. My mind imagined the reaction of the cops driving by and seeing this spectacle. The street corner church had begun.
Usually, Brother Jim guides the prayer. But this time, one of the more vocal guys of the group offered to take the lead instead. He offered a moving prayer for the personal needs of the group and the world at large. The Spirit was working. We ended in a round of the Lord’s prayer, shook hands, gave hugs, and then parted ways.
Walking away from the circle, the atmosphere of the neighborhood had changed. The sun emerged from the dark clouds and the people seemed friendlier. The next man we encountered offered to buy us coffee while we caught up. From there, we had grace-filled encounters with folks from all around the neighborhood.
Where is your Church? Is it restricted to certain walls and certain times? At Brothers and Sisters of Love, the world is our Church, and the streets show to us the image of God and grace of the Spirit each and every week. The residents may not attend any regular service, but thanks to Brother Jim, they still receive a weekly message and experience Christ’s love. And the more time we spend in the neighborhood, the more we watch that love spread to one another. The message is working. The Spirit is alive.
So as Brother Jim prays each week, “Where two or three are gathered, Lord, you are right there in our midst, and we thank you for that.” Let us remember this promise from God, and not restrict ourselves to a physical place, but open our hearts to encounter God in all we do and in whomever we meet along the way.
–Megan Sherrier, BSL
Support us Today via paypal! http://www.brothersandsistersoflove.com