Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Who BLOODY Cares?

I have a friend, Alex, who wants to start a street church. He is thinking of founding a sanctuary and a prayer space for the people we serve lunch to at The Salvation Army on Mondays. We have noticed that our general niceness and our offers of prayer have not got many of our very needy people into churches, and we suspect this is not a problem to lay at THEIR feet. 

Today is Budget Day. I really don't give a damn. I'm sorry, so sorry to offend, but I am angry, I am upset, and I want to kick the Chancellor of the Exchequer in the balls. Because today I was at The Vaughn Centre, in Gloucester, when one of the staff read a notice to the street people present, announcing that The Vaughn Centre can no longer act as a drop-in centre for them. Appointments only from now on. No toilets, no showers, no washing machines, no access to computers, no food. Turn up for your clinic appointment, or session with your project worker, then please go back onto the streets. 

"It's due to the cuts isn't it?"

"I'm sorry, I can't comment."

I commented. The worker, who is losing her job this month, explained that to say more, was to draw down disciplinary action, so she couldn't. So I went a different way round. 

"Would it help if the churches raised the issue with the powers that be?" "PLEASE" she said. 

Pope Francis invites we Catholics to be out on the streets, and today I got it.

"What can we do sacrementally to help?" Alex asks, because he's been to Bible School. 

I want to hold a prayer vigil outside Number 11 Downing Street with a banner that reads:

"No Toilet
No Washing Facilities
No Bed
No Dignity
No Hope

I'm here for the poor . Where Are You? "

Without the projects now being progressively defunded, by George Osborne, the unemployed cannot maintain even basic dignity. I saw the disbelief on their faces. You should have seen the look on mine.

What I am saying to Alex is that the street people might indeed need sanctuary and a prayer space, but first and foremost, they need the Church of the Suffering Christ, out on the streets. Being in hopeless places and bearing witness. Making a nuisance of ourselves, reminding our rulers that what is happening to the most vulnerable people in our society is utterly shameful. 

Ultimately our society will not be judged by the way it treats the priviledged, like me,   but the way it treats the poor and underpriviliged. Shameful about fits the bill today.

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