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All writing is a form of prayer - John Keats

Wednesday, July 20, 2022

Ignoring the poor? Better watch out!

In my daily feed from Frederick Buechner, the famed theologian was talking about Dr. Luke’s gospel in the New Testament: 

Luke makes sure that nobody misses the point that Jesus was always stewing about the terrible needs of poor people. He is the one who tells us that when Jesus preached at Nazareth, his text was "he has appointed me to preach good news to the poor" from Isaiah (Luke 4:18), and whereas Matthew says that the first Beatitude was "Blessed are the poor in spirit," according to Luke it was just plain "Blessed are the poor" period (Luke 6:20). He also recorded some parables, like the one about the rich man and the beggar, that come right out and say that if the haves don't do their share to help the have-nots, they better watch out, and he's the only one to quote the song Mary sang that includes the words "he has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich has sent empty away" (Luke 1:53). 

I found his thoughts exceptionally meaningful, because earlier this week I had a luncheon meeting with some of the surviving charter members of HIS MEN, a male chorus that would have been 50 years old this year. I had just posted a video of my final performance with the group, in 1997, when HIS MEN sang in Robert Schuller’s Crystal Cathedral. It was an exhilarating experience! But not typical. 

In its 4+ decades of music ministry, HIS MEN focused on the poor, the disenfranchised, the elderly, the ailing, and especially the incarcerated. It was our position that the well-dressed people who attend the Crystal Cathedral shouldn’t be the only ones blessed by good music.

And so, while other music groups performed in the nice churches, our little all-white Dutch gang invited ourselves into the tiniest, poorest churches in town, including those of different races and different denominations. When booking performances for a weekend in a certain community our coordinator would also investigate possible gigs in nursing homes, hospitals, orphanages, jails and prisons. 

I credit those beautiful, meaningful experiences with helping me form the goals and functions of HUMANITY FOR PRISONERS this many years later. Again, using Frederick Buechner’s message from St. Luke: 

He…recorded some parables, like the one about the rich man and the beggar, that come right out and say that if the haves don't do their share to help the have-nots, they better watch out…

 



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