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Porch steps theology


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A homeless woman named Patricia seeks spare change from passersby in Washington's McPherson Square park (2007).
A homeless woman named Patricia seeks spare change from passersby in Washington’s McPherson Square park (2007).

Some of the best theological conversations I have occur on the porch steps outside Holy Trinity's sacristy. There, various homeless people tend to hang out drinking morning beer or waking up on our heated walkway.

has slept there for a several weeks, wrapped in a lightweight jacket, meager belongings gathered close. In the mornings, we offer him coffee. Our kitchen coordinator makes him breakfast. Then we send him into his day with a Life Pack–a small packet of emergency food.

On Palm Sunday, as M nursed his coffee, I stopped on the steps to chat. He asked what day it was. “Palm Sunday,” I said, “when Jesus came into Jerusalem.”

“Do you think he knew he was going to die?” M asked.

“I think he did,” I answered.

We talked of what it must have been like for Jesus to enter Jerusalem knowing what he knew.

M told me he reads the Bible a lot. “I spend a lot of time walking around town,” he said. “People, they aren't nice to homeless folks. They shout at me. Used to make me feel bad, but then I realized Jesus walked all the time — here and there — walked all over. It made me feel better.”

I thought of the one who vowed to follow Jesus after he'd set his face toward Jerusalem. And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.”

M's life likely won't be fixed. His challenges are long-standing, complex, and deep. The longer I serve in West Central, the more I understand we are called to be companions on some very difficult journeys, easing suffering where we can and most of all, being present with faithfulness and love.

The Rev. Kris Christensen is pastor and urban missioner of Holy Trinity Episcopal Church in West Central Spokane.

Tracy Simmons
Tracy Simmons
Tracy Simmons is an award-winning journalist specializing in religion reporting and digital entrepreneurship. In her approximate 20 years on the religion beat, Simmons has tucked a notepad in her pocket and found some of her favorite stories aboard cargo ships in New Jersey, on a police chase in Albuquerque, in dusty Texas church bell towers, on the streets of New York and in tent cities in Haiti. Simmons has worked as a multimedia journalist for newspapers across New Mexico, Texas, Connecticut and Washington. She is the executive director of FāVS.News, a digital journalism start-up covering religion news and commentary in Spokane, Washington. She also writes for The Spokesman-Review and national publications. She is a Scholarly Assistant Professor of Journalism at Washington State University.

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11 years ago

Kris – I’m so grateful for your ministry. Walking a difficult road is made easier with companionship…

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