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Jesus Carries a Sign
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“Will Work 4 Food.”

“Please help me. I’m hungry. God bless you!”

“Need money for beer.”

The signs are as varied as the people who hold them. Usually scrawled on cardboard, often with at least one word misspelled to catch attention, they always plead for “Help!”

Occasionally a lengthy message calls from the outstretched hands of a grizzled old man, describing the loss of his job or a family awaiting dinner, needs that can only be read by drivers whose mad dash has been slowed by a stop light.

Four veterans work an intersection near our home, trading corners on the hour and adjusting signs to match the schedules of drivers. Morning messages for Dads, softer afternoon appeals for Moms and kids. Always, their bikes lay like forgotten toys beneath the old cypress tree. One wears a too-good Red Sox cap. Backwards. Rumor is they’re journalists researching a story about American charity.

Not Enough to Feed Them All

One driver carries extra granola bars, handing them off like a waiter delivering an order of escargot. But Nature Valley doesn’t make enough granola bars to feed them all.

“What would Jesus do?”

 “Please help me get drunk.”

Father Frank, a recovering alcoholic, wanders Honolulu corners calling the hungry home. Those who respond receive a warm meal of bread, beans, potatoes, and whatever else Frank has been able to scrounge. An army of Dumpster Divers helps him transform the day’s trash into delicacies for the starving. Dinner is always at least four courses disguised by gravy.

A guitar-playing teen croons home-made harmonies beside a collection of coins in a broken shoebox. Nearby, an old woman draws stick figure masterpieces “For Sale,” and a young mother cuddles her baby beneath a store window filled with expensive chocolates. Her cardboard sign reads, “Her name is Maria and she’s hungry. Thank you.”

Genocide is happening in Darfur. Three thousand live in the woods near Orlando. Old men sleep on steaming sewer grates in Baltimore. People with their souls hanging out push shopping carts filled with trash in the U.S. capital. Three hundred million children go to sleep hungry each night. Every 3.6 seconds someone dies of hunger.

The Devil is our enemy, and he is strong!

“Got any change?”

Here is today’s Xtreme Grace Assignment:

1. Help prepare dinner at a homeless shelter next Thursday.
2. Whenever you buy an apple or a candy bar buy an extra for someone with a sign.
3. Read Matthew 25:31-46 every morning. Twice. It’s good sheep food.

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By Dick Duerksen. Reprinted with permission from the Lake Union Herald, January 2007. Copyright © 2007 by GraceNotes. All rights reserved. Use of this material is subject to usage guidelines.

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