Sunday’s sermon was about helping the poor. Our scripture was from James 2 which cautions us not to show partiality for those who appear to be better off.
Which set me to thinking about what, exactly, it means to be poor. There’s the obvious answer–people who don’t have enough to meet their basic needs of food, shelter, clothing . . . The homeless. The hungry. The family struggling to make ends meet. The senior choosing between food and medicine.
But it occurred to me that there are plenty of other kinds of poverty in this world:
- People who are poor in friendships/relationships. Basically, the lonely.
- People who are poor in joy/peace. Those who struggle with depression or maybe they’re just overwhelmed by life at the moment.
- People who are poor in safety/security. Those who live in places with high crime or who are fearful of how people might treat them.
- People who are poor in faith/spirituality. Unbelievers of all kinds–folks who believe this life is all there is.
- People who are poor in health/wellness. Terminally ill people or even those who are chronically ill.
I suspect this list could go on and on. The point is, while I may not be poor financially, I’m poor in other ways. And so is everyone else.
Our pastor talked about how the poor are often people we don’t see or notice. They’re on the margins of society, tucked away, hidden, unrecognized–which can make them hard to help. We have to LOOK for the poor. But I think that extends to the people we DO see on a regular basis as well. Probably they’re poor in one way or another. And either we fail to notice it or they do a good job of hiding it.
What if we all started paying attention? What if I take the time to notice when a co-worker is poor in time and offer to help with a task? Or that a neighbor is poor in visitors and stop by for a chat? Or that a friend is poor in peace and take time to pray with her?
Sometimes we do nothing because it feels like there’s too much need to even make a dent. And yet . . . I know how wonderful it is when someone notices I have a need and meets it. Maybe if we all did just a little, it would add up.