A Burden Shared

A Burden Shared

December 1, 2015


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For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives,
so also through Christ our comfort overflows.
2 Corinthians 1:5

One Saturday afternoon I led a group of teenagers from an affluent Boston suburb around Central Square, to distribute sandwiches to the homeless men and women there. As we walked up and down Massachusetts Avenue, we came across an older gentleman sitting in the doorway of a bank. We’ll call him “Roger.”

After offering Roger sandwiches, juice boxes and fresh fruit, we asked him how he was doing. With little hesitation, he shared a short account of his life before he ended up on the streets. He told us that his father was a Christian minister, and that he himself was a person of deep faith, faith that buoyed his spirits even during hard times. He told us about his own children, from whom he had long been estranged. After listening to all that was troubling Roger’s heart, we offered to pray with him and he gladly accepted. When we parted ways, he had tears in his eyes.  

The teenagers and their chaperones were not the most obvious people to bear witness to Roger’s suffering. Before our paths crossed that day, we did not know Roger, nor he us. But even for those fleeting moments, our presence and willingness to listen to him that afternoon meant that Roger did not have to bear his pain alone. 

The Christmas story reminds us that God’s love for us is so strong that God took on human flesh so that none of us ever has to bear our pain alone. It is exactly this kind of love that the Outdoor Church seeks to embody on the street.

May the love of Christmas – the love of a God of who bears our pain alongside of us – fill our hearts to overflowing. In the name of the Christ child; amen.

An Advent reflection by Rev. Tom Hathaway, director of the Outdoor Church

Jed Mannis