Fast Food Joints and Worship Houses

Fast Food Joints and Worship Houses

Yesterday morning I greeted a homeless young man sitting quietly in a corner of our local McDonalds, a greeting which turned out to be a nice conversation. Most mornings it’s a few of us slightly older types sitting there with morning thoughts and a cup of coffee, accompanied by one or two obviously younger, fast asleep in quiet corners. This guy was quite awake, iPhone plugged in, communicating with someone somewhere.

My questions were of the generic type. Good sleep? Pretty good. Where? Outside nearby just around the corner. I made some sympathetic sounds although no complaint from him. It’s nice weather. Where are you from? I’m expecting country of origin probably Asian like maybe Thailand or Cambodia or… (I am not worldly traveled nor expert in genetics or ethnicities). From Edmonton. Edmonton!? I try not to be too surprised. So, what brings you all the way down to faraway city of Calgary? He walked. Decided to give it a try here. Work? Yes, maybe. My memory now crowds in. I too walked Edmonton to Calgary a few years ago. It was 2019 along with about 45 others, a walk of solidarity and teachings regarding our colonialist western history, beneficiaries of Treaties 6 and 7, the whole event paid for by Health Sciences Association of Alberta. He smiled as I told him a bit about that, trying not to get too carried away with my story. I bade him welcome to Calgary and left him with his device. I never got answer to my question about country of origin.

This conversation is now food for thought. This clear-eyed young man adventuring his way around seemed healthy, even purposeful. My impression of the last several years is that homeless persons of color are generally healthier looking and less dramatic in this city than are the Caucasians. The Caucasian look is heads-down ghastly either for dramatic effect or caused by trauma or possibly addiction. These days all things are possible among us people of all cultures and colors and socioeconomic status, not only sleeping in corners but driving the 4x4s, the BMWs, and most certainly the ones selling the coffee and doughnuts and scanning our debit and credit and rewards cards!

Not only in fast food joints, but also in our sacred gatherings? This young man could have sat comfortably in our church, at least according to outer demeanor. And what of the inner? Inner demeanor is the great equalizer, for the stranger looking for a place to sit and for the one sitting in church in usual spot (Interesting perspective in James 2:3). Inner demeanor is also very good news! Inner makes room for variety, for everyone. I enjoyed a recent “Menno Minute” by Werner Dejong, a missionary out there asking us over here whether there might be room for dance in our worshiping style(s) – an absolutely essential question as we and neighbors from next door and from faraway move forward in worship of almighty God.

At present I am leading a handful of persons participating in the Anabaptism at 500 Scripture study. I am delighted at some nice variety in this group and also the invitation to contribute our inner thoughts to the study notes in an upcoming Anabaptist Community Bible, anticipated publication in 2025. Please check out the Youtube introduction.