In the unseen

Good morning everyone! I am writing to you from Estacada where I am at a Young Adult Clergy Retreat! I am surrounded by woods and lots of colleagues.  So I may be a bit brief….

Today’s scripture:

Hebrews 11:1-3 (NRSV)

11 Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. Indeed, by faith our ancestors received approval. By faith we understand that the worlds were prepared by the word of God, so that what is seen was made from things that are not visible.

Yesterday was a whirlwind.  I had an all day training in Vancouver about healthy boundaries. I had to be there by 8:30 in the morning and it went until 4pm in the afternoon.  But on Sunday an article about our homeless situation hit the Associated Press so it felt as though my world went up in chaos. My phone was buzzing off the hook so to speak all day long.  So I felt rude as I check my phone obsessively about emails or articles or contacts or phone calls. At a couple of points, I had to get up and leave to answer the phone because the calls were from media.  I especially wanted to make sure to answer the call from NPR.

If you haven’t seen it, there is news out there about our tents on site.  We were handed a new letter from the city last week.  In the letter we are told that because of our “lack of action” we now have a deadline to get people off of our property or else we will be fined 500 dollars a day by our court system.  The letter sites how many police calls there have been and arrests on our property. It outlines stricter versions of the letters before. ALL improvements anywhere close to homelessness need to come down…meaning the porto potty, plants that make it prettier, vehicles that someone might be sleeping in (although we gave the city our parking lot so we really have no control over that), or the lattice shielding the porto potty.

Here is the crazy party…two things were happening when I was hand delivered this letter.  1) A Rep from the Housing Authority was in the building following up on housing applications because I had asked her to be present and help us out.  We have been desperately looking for ways to get folks into housing. There are many barriers to this.  And 2) police officers had just dropped off a woman at our doorstep who they had picked up from a hotel because she had just been assaulted. They didn’t know where to take her so instead of the hospital, she brought the woman to the CoOp because, “They help people there.”  Another staff person and I took her to the hospital.

This seems disheartening to say the least. Lack of action?  Has that been what we have been doing when we have been meeting with community members and non profits? Is that where we have been when we sit with people and walk alongside them when the go to meetings because for the first time they feel value and a bit of stability? Is that where we have been when we meet with city officials?

Now, this whole situation has a lot of layers.  I am working on a faq sheet about some of them but I preached on Sunday about how justice and love sometimes collide because love is about relationship. They are not exclusive but sometimes they don’t make sense.  We are trying to follow mission and be about relationship.  This is hard stuff.

When Hebrews talks about faith and things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.  This speaks to me this morning.  This is hard but also necessary.  Faith is when we get crazy and believe that the outcome will be good because God will navigate this with us.  It is when we still gather to scheme and love on each other and not immediately give up because there has to be something bigger than us. It is my foolish optimism that keeps on thinking…there has got to be a way, a new way, a better way, a way that doesn’t harm but only exemplify and empower people.  There has to be a way that I haven’t seen yet…Hebrews assures us that. Faith has to be in that…crazy optimism that won’t let us go.

Keep praying, congregation. And I will keep you posted.

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