As I've talked to my friends who have no place to call home, other than a makeshift campground under an interstate highway bridge--ironically, highways built to take most people home after work--I've learned the importance of touch and human expressions of kindness and love. In fact, it's clear to me that the one thing we all desire is to be genuinely loved. That love involves respect, expressions of friendship and affection, and simple appreciation.
The street has taught me that "a pat on the back" is much more than an English idiom. Touching a friend on the shoulder or back in a greeting or a farewell usually elicits such positive reactions as to be surprising to people like me who take that sort of non-verbal communication for granted.
Love raises people from graves of hopelessness, depression, oppression and despair.
So, for me, over the past several months the thought has come again and again to bring the ultimate expression of affirmation to my friends on the street.
I did that a couple of weeks ago when I served Communion on the side of a street where I've been hanging out for almost two years.
Reactions were mixed and taught me other lessons that I'll unpack here in time.
But claiming and declaring the love of God for and to my homeless friends turned out to be an amazing experience for me and a number of them.
As hard as our mean streets are, they aren't hard enough to shake off our need for acceptance.
Lent gives way to Easter just as love opens doors to new life, often unexpected new life.
I've seen it again and again on the street.
I observed it again, even more powerfully, when I asked the simple question of those who passed by, "Friend, would you like to receive the Lord's Supper? God loves you more than you can know."