At our 150th anniversary community celebration, Bishop Mariann spoke of Grace Church as a refuge for the many who struggle to keep their heads above water amid the demands of life in the DC region.
I thought of Freddy, and man who was homeless in DC for 9 years. Freddy could, and did, wear people out. He certainly wore out his welcome with several agencies set up to help people like him. He simply could not make the accommodations required by life with other human beings. These are a challenge to all of us, but a nearly-insurmountable obstacle for Freddy.
Above all, Freddy needed his own, safe, space. While homeless, he staked out a few places of temporary refuge, Grace Church among them, and checked in at least daily. Three months ago, thanks to a subsidy secured through the DC Department of Human Services, he got his space – a small apartment in a large apartment building in Northwest DC. With some support, he’s now able to take care of his own business. His safe space has given him the ability to make the accommodations that eluded him before.
Many helped Freddy on his journey, but Grace Church played a central role. He defines himself as a Christian, and connection with a Christian community sustained his ability both “to will and to persevere”, in the words of the closing prayer of our baptismal service.
Grace: the unmerited gift of God’s love, a lifeboat in troubled waters, a refuge, a sanctuary. Freddy received it, partly through the ministry of a church named for this attribute of God. So do the rest of us who call Grace home. We might be a little more adept at negotiating the human world than Freddy, we might be “productive” in a way that Freddy isn’t, but even aptitude and productivity are themselves gifts, graces.