My husband and I have decided that is is much easier to love and support Jesus's "least of these" in the abstract.
You know. When their dogs aren't peeing on your garbage cans.
We live right up the hill from our little church. And like most church people, for better or worse, we can be a bit...a bit...territorial about our grounds. So when an old pickup truck with an RV attached appeared in our parking lot in the middle of last week and stayed, we were curious.
We got the story this weekend. The owner is a woman, probably mid-forties. Long blond hair and a cowboy hat, very friendly. Nowhere else to go. She shares the RV with her two dogs -- dogs she would have to give up if she were to go to a homeless shelter or transitional housing. (If that were even an option in these times.)
The church gave her permission to park overnight last Wednesday. As of last night she is still there, plugged into our electrical grid, popping into the church to warm up or use the facilities whenever the doors are unlocked. She's always cheerful and friendly and doesn't seem at all threatening. I mean, she waved a very cheery hello to my husband and me as we were heading into bell choir practice last night. (You know. As her dog was copiously relieving himself on that garbage can.)
Nobody seems to know quite what to do with her.
See, when Jesus said, "For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me..."
Well, that's sometimes easier to do in theory. Or from a distance.
Like it or not, right or wrong, it's just a lot simpler to write a check to support established organizations who have established structures in place than it is to personally deal with all the ugly loose ends that pop up when you're dealing with actual, real-life people. What to do with the woman who continues to have children she is not equipped to deal with? Or the alcoholic/addict who will never manage to break free, and doesn't even seem to be trying? Or the man who has been convicted of a crime so heinous that you can't imagine even sending a card, let alone visiting him in prison?
Or (hypothetically speaking, of course,) the woman who waves a cheery hello as she takes up two parking spaces, runs up your electric bill, doesn't leave when she says she will, and lets her dogs pee on your garbage cans?
This Christianity stuff isn't nearly as simple as it looks on paper.
Maybe that's the point?