Every February Valentine’s Day reminds us that love in action, expressed through gifts that require we take even a bit of time to think about, make or select, and deliver (or have delivered), means much more than words of love alone. The Bible reinforces this, maybe most clearly in Jesus’ own remarks and example. Two things he said: “There is no greater proof of love than this: a person voluntarily sacrifices their own life in order to bring benefit to their friend(s)” and “Love your neighbor in the ways you want to be cared for.”
Jesus is the source of inspiration and instruction for those in the early centuries of the church who took care of persons suffering from plagues, left on the streets to be avoided. And for those like Mother Teresa in the recent centuries of the church, who make sure human touch and kindness is given to those suffering on the margins of society.
And Jesus is the model of loving our neighbor that LOTS looks to. The core of our Mission, to welcome, restore and rebuild lives through relationship-focused ministries, is an attempt to live out his call to sacrifice our own comforts in order to show love to our neighbors, in deeds and in words, as ways we would want someone to do for us.
Sometimes love is given through gifts. Like food we begin preparing and cooking at 6:30am, often including items made by donors. Like coats or sweatshirts or socks or blankets other donors share with us. Like 16,000+ masks donated by agencies, companies and individuals we have handed out.
Sometimes love is given through services. Like those offered each day by our Health Clinic or a couple of days a week like our Vision Clinic. Or like the referrals we make to our network of partner ministries and agencies. Sometimes our love is less eagerly received. Like making and reinforcing rules in hope that our neighbors will learn better ways to successfully navigate relationships and, maybe, employment. The last year has taken a toll on our commitment to implement interpersonal interactions in all we do. But it has not deterred us from showing up in order to show love. We continue to work from the premise that Will Symmes, our Director of Volunteers repeats regularly, that showing up consistently creates trust, trust builds relationships, and relationships of trust are the foundation that leads to change. At the heart of our work remains the desire to build relationships and trust with our homeless neighbors so that we can influence lasting change - in our lives, in their lives, and in our community. Regardless what else this COVID pandemic has brought, it has not altered this priority: we must, and we will, be present demonstrating that we love our neighbors! Would you help us? Would you consider coming to join in showing love as a volunteer … with food prep and delivery … with sorting and delivering mail … with sorting and delivering clothing and hygiene items … ? Would you be willing to sacrifice some money you’d be glad to spend on yourself and instead send it to purchase things for our homeless and vulnerably housed neighbors? And if LOTS isn’t where you sense you need to invest, let me encourage you nonetheless to take time to discover another place and make the commitment to consistently spread the love there with others, in deeds and in words. And let’s see if this kind of real love won’t just change the world.
Combining life-saving relief with Life-giving relationships.