Another Sunday Rolls Around

Back in the day, I went to church and it was okay. It was never anything special until my husband, Stephen and I began going to The Gathering in downtown Dallas. The Gathering is a church for the “unhoused”. The homeless. The Gathering has changed our lives in so many ways. It has certainly changed the way I worship God and my attitude towards others.

The first time we went to The Gathering, it was the first or second week in September 2013. I admit I was a bit skeptical. No other church had really captured my heart. But, it wasn’t just the church I was skeptical of- I’d never been around “unhoused” people. I’d seen them on the street, sometimes hanging out by a 7-11 or similar store hoping to catch some change to get a cup of coffee or maybe even a meal. I  had never really spoken to any homeless people and like so many – I didn’t really even look at them- I had no money I could share and I didn’t want to feel guilty about not giving them anything.

That first Sunday we went to worship with the folks at The Gathering- well, it was just amazing- that’s the only word to describe it. The people, the folks I had never looked at, were welcoming, loving, grateful, happy and worshipped God with a fervor and an appreciation I’d never seen before. All at once, I was inspired to worship in the same way. I wanted the happiness and love they had found. I know what many are thinking- “they are happy, because they are addicts and/or mentally ill.” While some are addicts and some are mentally ill, that is not the happiness I’m talking about. It’s a high, but right then, that Sunday, it was a “high on God” I was witnessing.

My Sundays have been transformed from a “meh” kind of worship to an amazing kind of worship that lasts all week. I saw that even though many of the people worshipping have nothing, they are happy to worship with all their hearts each Sunday. This is what worship should be. God gives us the joy to worship Him this way. We just have to find it in order to do so.

I hope everyone has a place like The Gathering to call their own. There is no better feeling than to worship God on Sunday and have it last all week. Nothing better.

many unhoused people, much joy
many unhoused people, much joy
Father Charlie brings the sermon
Father Charlie brings the sermon

Mission Trips-Send Your Kids and They Will Never Forget It

A couple of weeks ago, my husband, Stephen and I decided to invite a few of the homeless people we knew who had a been working and trying to better their situations to our house for a brisket dinner. The clergy, and other leaders came as well and we all had a great time eating, playing with the animals and just hanging out.

I want to go back a bit and say that David and Micah and their sister Amanda, always went on mission trips as youth in the church. It’s always a useful and productive thing to send your kids on mission trips to teach them compassion, empathy and learn how to help and love people who often feel unloved, unworthy. I always thought it was a good thing, but never really thought about actually seeing the fruits of the mission trips themselves. That’s because I’d seen it in subtle ways- nothing like I was about to experience the day of the cookout.

Stephen and I went to church down at Thanksgiving Square- Ervay and Pacific in Dallas, as usual. After church, we had to wait until the chairs were put away, the musicians put away their instruments and we sorted out who was riding with who. Once all that was done, we were on our way to the farm. Once we got there, David, his wife Natalie, Micah and his wife, Laura had continued to prepare dinner and it was ready to put on plates. The kids served our guests without hesitation and kept them at ease and comfortable.

Chris, the music guy at church,brought out his guitar and we all starting singing old songs- “horse with no name” and other such oldies, songs with gestures, fun songs to sing. I looked up to see that the kids were making plates for our guests to take for dinner that night. As our guests left, the kids handed the plates to them, one by one. Kinda like Jesus did-exactly like Jesus did.

I was almost brought to tears. My children took what they had learned on their mission trips- how to be more like Jesus- and was applying it now- right this minute! What a beautiful thing to see. They did it with such grace, compassion and empathy. I have never been more proud of the kids, never loved them quite as much as I did in that moment, and was never so humbled by my own children.

So, if you can send your kids on mission trips, do it by all means. Oh my gosh, the rewards they and you will reap and the blessings that go with all that are almost more than you can stand.

Later on, Natalie smiled and said, “i’m tired.”  I smiled back and said, “it’s a good tired, though, isn’t it?” She smiled and nodded her head.

It’s just a little piece of heaven in an otherwise cruel world.