As Christmas draws near I remember that God calls himself Emmanuel "God with us." Jesus is God who enters into our lives and is with us in the pain and in the joy. He doesn't require us to "clean up" or be rid of all of our sin and filth. He comes to us exactly where we are. He touches the lepers and accepts the prostitutes.
When I was young I had very vivid dreams of holding sun damaged, scabbed, and beat up hands in my own small hands. Some subtle, but powerful healing took place in these moments of simply touching hurt human beings. As I continue to spend time my friends with out homes I remember the dreams I once had and see the passion God was placing in my heart for hurting people. Sitting with my friends without homes, like Paul (a chronically homeless 62 year old man) is what I long to do. I am reminded of what they have to bare when I hold their hands in mine or when I feel the roughness of Paul's hand tenderly on my cheek. Deep bonds are created and walls seem to break down.
Human beings crave touch. When I am away from family and friends and don't receive affection for a period of time, it makes me weary in a strange way. Our friends on the streets too often go with out being touched by anyone, or sometimes even talked to. Moments we just sit together are some of the most powerful experiences of Jesus I have had in my life. These moments did not happen in a church service or bible study (not that these are not good and important things) but they happened in a park with alcoholics, rejected and ignored by society. Because God is with us in the park.
Doing God's work with people living on the streets is not an amazing selfless act, but the place where I am made most whole. Moments we share are where I receive and am touched in some of the deepest places of my being. I have seen the father's face there. Jesus has sat with me, Paul, Bruce, Gader and Shakey. I am humbled.