shelter

Shelter in the Storm

SV Production / Shutterstock
SV Production / Shutterstock

AN IRAQ WAR VETERAN passes the offering plate after listening to a sermon on Christian persecution in the early church—tales of torture and execution. A 19-year-old student—home for the summer from college, where her first experience at a fraternity party turned violent—listens to her childhood pastor recite the story of David and Bathsheba and David’s subsequent path to redemption. A mother placates her two children with Cheerios and raisins as she struggles through the exhortations to spousal submission, hiding bruised arms under long sleeves in the middle of July.

The Christian story is littered with trauma—from slavery (the Israelites in Egypt) to sexual assault and abuse (Dinah, Tamar, Bathsheba) to the trauma of war (see: much of the Old Testament) to, of course, the crucifixion of Jesus and martyrdom of his disciples.

There is possibly no better resource for understanding the implications of and need for healing from trauma than faith communities pointing to the cross and Jesus’ answer to violence. Both the need and the opportunity are great. But perhaps too often Christians proclaim the message of Easter—victory and restoration—while skipping past the violence and trauma of Good Friday. Some theologies explain away that violence as a necessary component of ultimate salvation—but let’s get to the salvation part, okay?—leaving survivors of trauma who fill our Sunday pews without a touchstone for healing within the very communities that purport to be safe spaces.

Read the Full Article

​You've reached the end of our free magazine preview. For full digital access to Sojourners articles for as little as $2.95, please subscribe now. Your subscription allows us to pay authors fairly for their terrific work!
Subscribe Now!

It's Time to Say a Brave YES to What You Were Made For

I want to tell you the story of one brave woman who has given her life to live in the East Garfield Park neighborhood of Chicago.

Arloa Sutter is one of my new heroes. Let me tell you why.

I met Arloa through the Redbud Writers Guild to which we both belong. Last month I had the honor of meeting her at our guild retreat. I had no idea what a culture rebel she was.

Arloa didn't begin her days of serving the inner-city poor as the grandmother she is today, but as a young woman. It all began with her church staff not knowing what to do with the many people who came into the building during the week needing assistance. Instead of pushing them out the door, she created a storefront room that provided  food,l friendly conversation and a hot cup of coffee to those wishing to escape the cold. This eventually evolved into her gathering a board of directors to form Breakthrough Ministries in 1992.

She didn’t know what she was doing, but she did it anyways. I love gutsy people like that.

A New Matthew 25 Hymn: "O God, We Yearn For Safety"

Stained glass church window depicting the Parable of the Talents from Matthew 25
Stained glass church window depicting the Parable of the Talents from Matthew 25.

The Sunday, Nov. 13 lectionary gospel is Jesus’ Parable of the Talents (Matthew 25:14-30). 

Kari Jo Verhulst, in Sojourners, reflected on Jesus’ challenging teaching: “The point is not to perfect our particular gifts, or ourselves, but to quit hoarding ourselves from others, and instead step out in faith that we have been given all we need.” 

The following new hymn affirms that Jesus’ parable calls us to faithfulness even when it involves risk and challenge today.

O God, we yearn for safety; We long to be secure.

Yet faithful, loving service Is what you value more.

You give us what is needed; You love, forgive and save.

Then, sending us to serve you, You call us to be brave.

You give to some ten talents—to others, two or three;

To some you give one blessing To manage faithfully. ...

Opening to The Evening

For Sara

The chain jangles like wind chimes
in the emptiness
as my key springs the padlock open.
Ten more steps
with the tense stillness
that has waited all day in these hallways
following me down the stairs.

With one budge
a crack of sunlight
falls into the stairwell.
There is a moment motionless
as my eyes adjust,
as the bundles
are adjusted,
collected,
into women
who want to come in.
They shuffle past
my hand, stretched,
to hold the door open.
My hellos are somehow hollow.

I feel the day's stale silence
easing out of the entry
as late afternoon air breathes in
the evening rush hour.
I watch the employer and employed,
grinding out of the offices,
grate against the concrete corridors.
Their hurry scratches the silence
with which the sun pours down the streets,
with which certain silhouettes move out of a day,
swallowed in anonymity.
This side of the street
they emerge into women
with something on their minds.

As our eyes meet
recognition of what it is
to have reached a place to rest
reaches me.
Their silence replaces my own.
Patience passes
like a shadow
into me
as they pass into the building.

Amy Beth Cross lived with her daughter, Sara, in Effingham, Kansas, where she worked as a waitress when this poem appeared. This poem was written out of Cross' experience working in a shelter in Washington, D.C.

Read the Full Article

​You've reached the end of our free magazine preview. For full digital access to Sojourners articles for as little as $2.95, please subscribe now. Your subscription allows us to pay authors fairly for their terrific work!
Subscribe Now!

Subscribe