Pastor Mickey Correa
– Bill Clinton
While New York City is not the “biggest” city in the world, (at a whopping 38 million residents, Tokyo is the top contender) according to Business Insider, we are still among the top 10. And while we are a populous city with many residents, a significant amount of New Yorkers are without a stable place to live. And I’m not just talking about couch surfers. According to the Coalition for the Homeless, an advocacy agency in NYC (where I happened to get my start as a social worker), there are around 62,000 homeless people, including 15,553 homeless families with 23,445 homeless children that are presently living in homeless shelters. This is not including a number of folks who are unaccounted for due to being “street” homeless (think of those who sleep on sidewalks, cardboard boxes, trains, etc..). The statistics show us that the homeless crisis in New York has not gotten better even when we didn’t see as many homeless people around. (Because at one point during a recent administration, such “behavior” was targeted and tucked away instead of intentionally addressing socio-economic disparities in urban housing). Historical data actually shows that in NYC, the numbers have reached the highest levels since the Great Depression of the 1930s.
At the heart of our revered Christmas story, a homeless family unfortunately is not the one that draws our attention. We prefer the sight and sounds of angels, stars, and cute manger scenes. While it would not seem jovial to think about, consideration of what it meant to be that homeless family during that time should make us tremble even if they were so resilient in spite of the odds that were against them. That homeless family did find hope in a promise much greater than their circumstances. Nonetheless, they lacked basic necessities; resources they needed to reach as a collective identity the pinnacle of Maslow’s pyramid. Maybe this season of Advent should be of one of discomfort. Of looking deep within our own crowded lives and busy schedules. While this certainly is a time to get our spiritual business in order, maybe it’s also a time to think about how we are engaging in a season of action by our giving and serving others. While Advent is a time of anticipated faith, hope, joy and love, let us not become so crowded with intangible things that we forget that many go without, and that we can do something, if we just moved from our prayers and political rants to do something concrete for those on the margins of our city.
Prayer: God of Hope, fill me with such holy discomfort that I might do something that offers your homeless presence a place to dwell.