Christ is among us in in the presence of the least

Christ is among us in in the presence of the least

Story and Verse: This is the fifth in a Thanksgiving-to-Epiphany series.

Matthew 24: 31-40
THIS IS THE STORY of a woman who gave life to this scripture, and how I found Jesus in her at a critical time in my life, as well as reaffirmation of my calling.
Mattie and Joe were released from the state mental hospital in Marion, Virginia. Their families didn’t want them back home, so they stayed in Marion. They found each other because no one else cared much about them.
Over the years, Mattie and Joe lived from boarding house to boarding house, while their bills were paid by a local agency. They had very little money for food. All their clothes came from a clothing pantry. In order to have extra money, they picked up cans and took them to the recycling center. I used to save our cans to give them.
Joe was a talker, but Mattie always looked down at her feet and never said much, even when spoken to. Life had really beat her down. As I tried to minister to Mattie and Joe, I never knew if she especially understood. There didn’t seem to be a connection spiritually that I could notice.
Right before Christmas many years ago, I was really down because of denominational administrative changes that were affecting my work as a missionary. I was frustrated and seriously considering giving up. I stopped to put gas in my truck, and I saw Mattie walking down the sidewalk with a grocery bag in her hand.
I thought to myself, “Good, Joe’s not with her so I won’t have to talk to anybody today.”
Then Mattie did the most unexpected thing. She came off the sidewalk and walked up towards me. I asked her where Joe was, because they were always together. In a low voice she said, “He’s not feeling well.”
Then Mattie put her arms around me and said, “Merry Christmas, Harry.”
I was shocked. I really didn’t know what to say. When she stepped back, I didn’t see this broken-down and discarded woman who seldom bathed. Rather, I saw in her the face of Christ.
At that moment, I knew that I had been re-ordained. I was ready to pursue once again – with renewed strength and enthusiasm – my call to mission.


The Least

We often feel content
    In a Christian sort of way
To think we’ve done our part
    By the pious words we say
Or grace a sacred pew
    At the church from week to week
Or read a scripture verse
    When we’ve time to take a peek
But Jesus bids us more
    Through the love that he has shown
For we are called to serve
    That His presence may be known
There are those around us
    The forgotten, lost, the least
Whom we might not accept
    In our homes nor at our feast
But Jesus came to save
    All the least, and by the way
To save our souls as well
    As we serve him every day
We’re called to serve the least
    So, his presence we might see
That heals a broken world
    Giving life to you and me
Jesus is the image
    That’s reflected in each face
To stir our heart and soul
    Then transform us by his grace
So, when oh Lord, yes when
    Did we serve or tend to you?   
In service to the least
     We have likewise served you too

-- Harry Howe

Coming next week: Good News to the Poor


howe and baby 2019.jpg
Harry Howe

The Rev. Harry Howe is director of Project Crossroads in Marion, Virginia.