A friend from out of town who organizes meals for the unhoused in his city asked me for more information about Haywood Street and how we were able to feed so many people every week. I know the place this man serves and how much he loves those he serves. Haywood Street Congregation is different. I tried to explain and did a terrible job. I ended by offering our home to him and his wife if they would like to come and see Haywood Street for himself.
However, his questions have made me examine again what about Haywood Street Congregation is unlike other churches and other missions. It is not the number of people we serve each week. It is not the way we serve one another, though that is unique. It is not the hope that everyone who comes will be able to claim their identity as a Child of God. So what is it? What have I learned since I have been here and what do I hope to grow in my Spirit?
It is grace. The grace that is practiced at Haywood is radical and raw. It is like that practiced by Jesus and mimics God’s grace offered to us.
We believe that God gives in abundance. He provides what we need and then some. He forgives all and loves us unceasingly and we are called to do likewise. The way this looks is that everyone can eat their fill. They serve themselves and if they want more they are given more. They are not given a specific number of clothes. They get what they need if we have it. I often watch the miracle of someone asking for an unusual size thinking we never get that size, only to have the piece of clothing in that size arrive a little later in the day in time for me to deliver the item to the dining room where the person has gone to eat after shopping in the Outfitters. I have seen people offer something they treasure to another because the other wants it as a gift for someone they love. Generosity is contagious.
Yet trust in enough is very hard. Often we hear, “it is not fair for someone to take so much or to be forgiven so often.” No, it is not fair. It is more than fair. It is full of grace and faith in God’s love. It is living in the Mystery of the Holy Spirit. No one knows were It will blow or what wonder It will bring.
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