Author Brittany Fiscus-van Rossum
Reflection: v.8 ‘let me hear joy and gladness’
Joy, gladness, and fun are essential to living a well-rounded and healthy life. Just as human beings need sustenance, clean water, oxygen, and shelter they also need community, healthy relationships, and opportunities to relax and enjoy themselves. Human beings deserve happiness—in fact, God wants it for us! Human beings also deserve such joy, rest, and healthy communities of support when they happen to be without housing.
Something that has always confounded me is this biased and privileged notion that people experiencing homelessness only deserve resources and not relationships.
As if ‘housed people’ are allowed to have church communities, relationships, and hobbies, but people living on the streets cannot—it’s classist plain and simple. I see it in the way churches prioritize connecting people to resources without also forming long-term relationships of inclusion. I see it in the way people only want to hear ‘success stories’ of people being ‘rescued’ from the streets but are less eager to hear about our friends who never seem to reach that opportunity. We place values on achievement and forget the importance of being with and valuing people no matter where they are. One of the things I have always appreciated the most about worshiping at Mercy (even before I became a pastor here) was that it was a place where people could come and be themselves and get to know others—we try our best to build a beloved community with no strings attached, no questions asked, no ID required. It’s not a program—it’s a church. I believe that God wants joy and community for us no matter what is going on in our lives. Do I believe that housing and shelter are essential? Heck yeah. But are we valuable and worthy of relationship even when we aren’t in housing? Yes! Does God love and value our lives and want joy for us even when we’re without housing? Absolutely. So why don’t our churches?
Prayer Lord, help our communities to reflect your beloved community. Help us to seek joy with one another!