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May 13, 2024

| Jim Cantelon |

I was a guest speaker at a church recently where the setting was inner city and the congregants bore the signs of “living rough”- some living on the street, others on welfare, and many the “working poor”. Compared to the poor that we minister to in Africa, they had/have much more in terms of a social safety net, but with economies of scale are just as vulnerable. Yet, in terms of spiritual sensitivity and love for God, they are on a parallel track.

The service was sweet. The atmosphere was gentle and worshipful. The singing was soft but sincere. I felt the presence of the holy.

Once again, I was reminded that the Lord, unlike us, is “no respecter of persons”. His values transcend ours. Where we look “on the outward appearance” He “looks on the heart”. There are no socio-economic judgements from Heaven. Rather, there is divine resonance with the humble souls who love their Maker.

Jesus set the bar when in his hometown synagogue in Nazareth he read from Isaiah 61, “The spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor, to bind up the brokenhearted…to provide the oil of gladness for the spirit of heaviness…”. His first priority was the poor. Indeed, in his famous “sermon on the mount” he began with “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven…”.

So I have found myself preaching mainly to the poor these past 25 years. Maybe that’s exactly what I should be doing.

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