Walk. Pray. Love.
April 11, 2016
(A reflection by Frank Roby)
Walking the city, we realize we are close enough to touch the prosperous and the poor; close enough to choose whom to greet – the beautiful or the disheveled – and we do choose. And doing so defines us just a little.
On Saturday morning, over 100 FirstChurch members and friends between ages 2 and 82 chose to walk south from our glossy “heart of the arts district” into the heart of our urban core – from magnificent fountains, to leaky faucets dripping across broken sidewalks. We walked in the rhythm of a life lived for Christ, which is to say, a life lived for others. Rev. Tom Downing reminded us of the walking that Jesus and his disciples did, often unsure where they would sleep, what they would eat, and whether they would be well received. More prayer and more love, so that we might all have the courage to face these choices with the dignity of others on our mind each day, please.
We walked to 511 North Akard, where CitySquare has been nationally recognized for developing safe housing for the homeless, the working poor and those in transition. But it is a drop in an ever increasing bucket. More prayer and more love for the homeless, please.
We walked to City Hall, that I.M. Pei upside down building south of the library. Jeff Chestnut, one of our members working for the city, called us to be involved in solving our city’s deep housing and economic challenges, and Dr. Andy Stoker shared our church’s collaborative and interfaith efforts with Mayor Mike Rawlings and a number of downtown pastors. More prayer and more love for housing, education, and economic opportunity, please.
We walked to Crossroads Community Services, founded by our church over 20 years ago, which feeds the hungry alongside The Stewpot. We passed Family Gateway, which serves homeless families, and The Bridge, a city-sponsored shelter that provides services to so many at great risk.
Prosperity and poverty are within a whisper of each other all over our city. On one block, a massive redevelopment of the Farmers Market is among Dallas’ “it” places to live, but only a few blocks south is Tent City, a makeshift homeless community reminiscent of the Great Depression that has nearly quadrupled since last August. In an era gone by, encampments of the forgotten sprung up all over America. And they are growing again, just as a dandelion grows in the cracks of a sidewalk. More prayer and more love for the thousands who have been squeezed out of a place to call their own, please.
A little over 2 miles and 2 hours after we started, we returned to our comfortable church home, breaking bread (hot dog buns, actually) and celebrating our unique and vital calling to be present downtown, and to be a living church of Christ.
Reflection, though, is just the beginning. We must continue to pray for and walk into the discomfort and unknown, bringing Christ’s light and love as we go. As we saw on Saturday, Dallas is teeming with organizations committed to uplifting poverty-stricken populations, but the need is ever increasing and our voices, votes, and actions make an impact. They must make an impact. If we don’t, who will?