Monday, February 9, 2009

The Kingdom of God at The Lord's Gym

“Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.”

The Lord’s Gym is in part of the New Life Church. I was there to help with a Navigator seminar “Listening and Healing Prayer” There were about 60 people at the seminar, and a recovery rally in the next room, neighborhood teenagers playing basketball in the gym, vets using the exercise machines, women shopping at the Lord’s Closet for free clothes. It’s a busy place.
The New Life Church is a recovery church – and the people there were either recovering alcoholics, drug addicts, workers or some combination. I sat with Sally* who had a tattoo around her neck and said coming there kept her from getting into trouble; with Sue, Cindy and John who were homeless and living in the shelter. Andrea had been out of prison a week… Molly had just been kicked out of the clean and sober house and didn’t know where she was going to go. Sometimes, she confessed, she stole food – just like she and her sister did when they were kids and no one was there to take care of them. No one there had anything left to hide, or bothered to pretend that they had much going for them. They sang the worship songs wholeheartedly.
During the weekend we listened to the Lord, prayed for one another, cried, ate pizza and chips and celebrated God’s love, forgiveness and welcome. Many of these people were used to being problems… they had social workers and psychiatrists and parole officers. They almost all had parents who were alcoholics or addicts and been abused in some way – beaten, neglected, raped. Told how worthless and unwanted they were – told by their parents and other adults that they were white trash, or an effing lying bitch, or stupid. This weekend at the Lord’s gym they were told something different – that they were children of God, brothers and sisters, loved and forgiven and that they could help each other. They prayed for each other, and it wasn’t the experts, or the professionals or the educated people who heard God – but each of them. The kingdom of God showed up there in the Lord’s gym.
Do I really believe that knowledge, intelligence, education, financial security, and a good family background aren’t the hard currency of the kingdom of God? As I read Luke, I see that the people who received the kingdom – the ones to whom the kingdom belonged - were the desperate, the outcasts, the ones with a big debt to be forgiven… the poor. The ones who know they are poor.

*the names are changed

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