Friday, January 04, 2008

Twelfth Night and Epiphanies

At our ministers' lectionary session today, we didn't spend much time on the upcoming lectionary reading. Instead, we spent our hour together talking about local civic matters---the lack of affordable housing on the island, our homeless population, the problems with ferry transportation which have the potential to cripple the local economy.

I've been struggling with this Sunday's sermon, which is entitled "Twelfth Night Epiphanies", linking both the paganish celebration of Twelfth Night (Jan. 6) and the Feast of Epiphany in traditional liturgical bodies and coming up with a collection of trivia that didn't seem to be going anywhere.

But during our conversation in the lectionary group, I had an epiphany of my own. This community desperately needs affordable housing for our work force, the women and men who teach in our schools, who cut our hair, who build boats and houses and churches and manage to bring in just enough income to survive---unless they live in a house whose rent or mortgage payment is beyond their means. We have a number of homeless people who live in cars or in dark corners of the forest and scavenge a living with odd jobs and other means.

What if our congregations (today the Methodists, Lutherans, House of Prayer, UUs, and Quakers were represented) combined our resources, wrote for grants, and inveigled the other congregations on the island to pitch in, and set up units of affordable housing? When I broached the idea, it seemed like a pipe dream at first, but I think we could do it.

It would take time and energy and money, but I can envision an agency run by representatives of many congregations which would oversee the units, keep maintenance current, police the development so that it was safe and livable, and offer an example of religious folk working together despite their theological differences.

That's a dream I have, that evangelical Christians, mainline Christians, Jews, UUs, and anyone else interested can come together to serve a common cause, letting our differences be less important than our mission to serve our community.

Wouldn't that be exciting? After the meeting, I found I had a lot of ideas for the sermon and it's just about done now!


Lizard Eater said...

This is a thrilling idea AND it's something that you could get businesses behind. Rev. Rudy Rasmus said something in a class of mine (he works with the homeless) that stuck with me. He said that rich people like to give money to things they can put their names on. Buildings, centers, things like that.

You go, Girl! I can't wait to hear more about this.

ms. kitty said...

Thanks for the encouragement, LE. I hope we'll seriously consider this project, as a community.

Anna Banana said...

Here in SoCal we have an interfaith homeless shelter network in the winter, but it's very small and temporary. Best of luck with this. It's not only important in itself, it's an inspiration to others.

ms. kitty said...

I know this kind of thing can work, with enough buy-in by the community. I'm hopeful. Thanks for your input.

Mile High Pixie said...

Brilliant brilliant brilliant!! Many people think "affordable housing" is for the homeless, but it's for many people who make our lives possible. It's for the working "poor", people who have to try to live on less than $15/hr.

If you do this kind of housing, may I suggest small structures, as in no more than three or four units per structure? It might make it easier for local staff/volunteers to maintain and supervise, and I found in my thesis research that the homeless have a lower recidivism rate when they're not ghettoized and are allowed to integrate into the housed community.

Rock on, Rev. Kit!

ms. kitty said...

What excellent advice, Pixie, thanks!