Since writing about Hashbrown Jesus last week, I've gotten a lot of positive response about that post. My family especially liked it. I went back the next evening for a late night snack and to see if I could catch HJ's real name (it's Gary, btw), but he wasn't working. My waitress, however, was there and she verified his story--his name, how he lives, how long he stays and works the grill at Waffle House every year.
As I reflected on that today, I remembered meeting Jesus on Christmas Day last year. Yes, just one month and one day ago. She walks the Earth, known to her contemporaries as Ms. Annie, but she lives and serves in a part of town known by locals as Frenchtown. I'm going to call her Grandma Jesus because that's what she has been to hungry people at the holidays for seventeen years.
And just like HJ, you'll find her among the downtrodden, the outcast, the poor and the marginalized because she, but for the grace of God, is one of them. We are ALL one of them. But we don't realize that in stooping down to serve, we get more out of the encounter than those we mean to serve. And do you know why? Because THOSE people are Jesus!
Did He not say that when you give your coat to warm a homeless person, you are in fact helping Him? I take those holy texts very literally. I know that when I fill a cup with water at the homeless shelter, I'm not doing it for nameless vagrant with the smelly clothes, the mussed hair and the dirty fingernails. I'm doing it because I look into that person's eyes and I see the face of the Divine.
If we will go hang with the homeless, the destitute, the prostitute, the marginalized in our society, we will see Jesus. Why are so many waiting for trumpets and a second coming? He's here, already, and He told us to be on the lookout. He's not carrying any cross this time, except the one we label Him with--homeless, beggar, queer, freak...(insert any label you want, here). He'd certainly appreciate a dollar, a warm meal, a friendly smile or someone to wash His dirty feet.
Will that someone be you?