Thursday, November 17, 2005
An interesting set of "events" has been occurring in the past week or so. I went to Mooching Monday at my sister and her hubby's house. This Monday, Sis's best childhood friend was here from Florida with her husband. They came to Mooching Monday, too. We all had dinner and were chatting and the likes, and after the plates were cleared away and everyone was just sitting at the table, we started discussing politics. Pretty soon, Best Childhood Friend (BCF) brought up welfare and was making various opinionated statements about it when I told her that the average welfare recipient is a middle aged white woman with about 2 or 3 kids. No one at the table believed this. I told them, yes, because these people who are on welfare are getting the assistance because of various reasons. Often, a husband will leave wife and children by death or divorce, thus leaving them financially less well off. Often because the family may suffer from downsizing. The "feminization of poverty" is a real thing. The truth is, not all people who are on welfare are getting help because they are lazy, system bilking jerks. Brother in law then gave a few examples of how he "knows" a family that lives in Chicago and they drive a BMW but when it is time to pass out the welfare checks they go to Alabama, park their car in the shed, and sit their six kids on the porch in old play clothes. This may be true, but how many people actually do that? A few thousand maybe, but truth be told, "Welfare Queens" generally do not exist. So, they were basically telling me that because I go to a liberal-arts college, my opinions and the research I have read is wrong. So, I just said, "Brother, you don't know everything." And then somehow the conversation shifted to my potential future. BCF and BCF's husband are both involved with law enforcement. BCF is a prison guard and BCF's husband is a cop. So anyway, they mentioned something about prison ministry and I said, "That sounds interesting, and like something I might want to try some day." To which just about everyone at the table basically replied, "That's a bad idea... You're too naive." I told them, "Felons need Jesus, too." To which they then replied, most of them have given up on Jesus. But the point is, they still NEED Jesus. And while I wouldn't go shove it down their throats and get all crazy with it, there is a calling out there for people to preach the Gospel in prisons. Some of these people have never heard about Jesus and his love. Society shuns these people, they feel hopeless, and that is one factor that leads to recidivism. But at this point, I thought of Matthew 25, "Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me." Then the people who Jesus was talking to asked him, "Lord when did we do these things for you?" And Jesus replied, "Just as you have done it to the least of these who are members of my family, you have done it also to me." But, I kicked myself because I didn't say this and I KNEW I should have. *kick, kick, kick* So, anyway, I've been thinking about that ALL week because it just bothers me that some people are content to let the government (nothing against the U.S.; I think it's a great place to live) keep going along in a rather mediocre way of feeding people, and keeping people at standards to which this part of the world is celebrated as having. Millions of people in THIS country are starving and I don't think that's ok. Some European countries do such a great job at eradicating poverty that we should be ashamed of ourselves. It really is upsetting that because a few cases here and there are giving a bad name to Welfare (which isn't really called that, anymore anyway) that people think EVERYONE on welfare is bilking the system. And it bothers me that people think felons are a lost cause. And it bothers me, I guess on a selfish, more downscaled note that people think I'm stupid and naive and believe everything I hear. So, I've been thinking about that whole exchange all week. So today I sit here in the lab at school waiting for my other class to convene. But in my waiting time, I try to write the Prayers of the People. (I have been blessed with the opportunity to write the P. of the P. that is used in weekly worship for the last 2 years or so). So, I pulled out my bulletin that has the texts of the week on it. I use this to write appropriate prayers. So, I pulled that out and when I come to the Gospel reading, it is none other that Matthew 25:31-46. And it just seems interesting to me that that would be the lesson for this coming Sunday. And the story doesn't end there. I checked my email after I wrote the prayers and I got an e-issue of Christianity today. I was reading it and the article, "Deep Down From Heaven" by Max Lucado says that God loves us too much too make the world all about us. Because then the salvation of the world would be up to us. God knows we can't do it all, so He gives us our own jobs to do. Lucado likens God to a master mechanic father dealing with a son who can't tell the difference between a fan belt and a spare tire while at the same time dealing with a severely broken car. That father, knowing his son is not mechanically inclined gives that son the job of cleaning spark plugs or putting sawdust over oil spots. God gives us these jobs to do, fully knowing that we could in no way pretend to work at Mr. Goodwrench. He wants us to do what we can with the gifts we have been given. Anyway, I just thought that tied in with everything I've been thinking. Maybe I'll add to this later. I don't know. Have a good day.