worship and justice on our doorstep

Worship and justice; intimacy and intercession; prayer and action; upward devotion and outward compassion… in short loving God and loving others. This is the balance we’re constantly seeking here as we balnce our rhythms of prayer, our creative resourcing and having our front door open to anyone in need. It is the tension of a holistic lifestyle. Last Thursday was a day it once again came to our doorstep in a challenging way.


It was five to nine. Worship was prepared; the projector and screen were up; the sound system was on; the kettle was boiling and we were all set to start the day with our morning rhythm of worship and intercession.

One of our pray-ers came in with the news that there was a homeless guy sitting out on the street just a few doors down – she had spotted him in the distance as she walked towards our centre from the other direction…

What blessed me that morning was that there was no real discussion – one type of worship was simply replaced with another without any conversation.

One by one different pray-ers popped out to offer tea, sit on the pavement to chat, try to get this man to come inside out of the freezing weather, bring another team member their coat because they’d not imagined he wouldn’t want to come in and hadn’t really stopped to think he might rather chat than put in a tea order for her to bring back once she’d suited and booted!

Faced with such need and a heartbreaking story of loss and despair similar to so many I’d heard before, it proved very little comfort that we were able to get this man the clothes and other bits and bobs he needed and make it possible for him to get a train to where he needed to go rather than see him have to walk the whole way.

Instead I was simply broken – at the knowledge of what he’d experienced and the problems in our system that leaves people like him out in the cold; about the fact that some elements of our simple welcome and provision were new to him; by the awareness that he made some bad choices even as he was being helped; and most of all by the fact that I couldn’t convince him to come inside where there was warmth and comfy seating.

And then I was deeply challenged. Long after most team members – including me – had left our new friend with a sack of clothes and other provisions and come back inside the Sanctuary, one pray-er remained… sitting on the pavement and continuing to chat.

After an hour and a half – when this last pray-er came back in… he brought this man with him. I was so humbled. I think Jesus would have done that – sat with the guy until… or even just in case… enough trust was built for him to consider coming  in to what was to him, after all, a strange place.

Our new friend stayed with us for a few hours but he left a lasting challenge, more questions about the best way to help people like him – and more fuel for prayer.

At least two prayers had been answered that day. The prayer of a man who told us he had cried out in desperation to God that morning to provide practical help. And the prayer of three women from exactly a week before – who had again read Isaiah 58 in the light of statistics and stories we focused on during the national week of action on UK poverty and homelessness – and had asked God to bring those in need to our notice so we could demonstrate his practical and life-giving love to them.

But there have been a myriad more prayers offered since then, and many conversations full of questions over the last few days.

For this man who we may not see again to continue to experience love, acceptance and provision; for more opportunities; for more courage to go the extra mile to express love whatever the cost.

And for enough humility to accept that the people we offer help to may not always want it, or may not always make the best choices in response…

Just like we don’t always make the best choices with the love and provision our Father gives us. But he keeps on giving them anyway…


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