Tag Archive: Homeless


Yesterday was Reformation Day, which I started by humming “A Mighty Fortress is Our God.”  As a side note, I personally believe that every day should begin with this song! Anyway, after a musical beginning, I headed out early as I do every morning to Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität (LMU) München so that I would make it to my Hebrew class in time.  As I walked into the building from the subway I was thinking about spending time with my husband and one of my best friends later that afternoon.  Half daydreaming, I looked up at the door and there was a sign on it that said the building would be closed on Thursday, November 1 for Allerheiligen (All Saints’ Day).  I grinned, knowing that this day off gave me more time to spend with my hubby and friend, but then I looked pass the paper sign and through the glass door.

Through that door and on the left side of the grand old university hallway was a homeless man, sitting on one of the metal chairs that folds down from out of the wall.  He was wearing a black winter hat and had his hands tucked into his jacket pockets.  His head was leaned forward, bowed down in sleep.  I had seen him there before, wandering the university’s halls or sitting on the chairs on colder days, so I wasn’t really surprised to see him in the building.  However, seeing the note about Allerheiligen – about All Saints’ Day – and looking at this man jarred my senses.  The question that came to mind was: “who are the saints of God?”

On Tuesday, October 30, I had visited the Alte Pinakothek, a gorgeous art gallery featuring medieval and Renaissance art from all over Europe.  A lot of this art is religious in nature, and many of the paintings featured saints with their golden halos and the symbols of their sufferings, deeds, and miracles.  Having minored in Medieval Studies in college, this was all familiar (and wonderful!) to me.  I know a lot of the saints stories and so looking at these paintings featuring these people is kind of like visiting old friends.  But thinking about these depictions in contrast to the man I saw sleeping in the hall of the university… what a world of difference.

“Who are the saints of God?”  “Who are the holy ones of God?”

Are they just those who have lived exemplary lives?
Are the saints limited to those who have been martyred in the name of Christ?
Are they only those who can work miracles?

Martin Luther spoke of Christians at “simul justus et peccator” (simultaneously justified through Christ and sinners).  This means that while we are forgiven and washed clean of all our sins in baptism, we still continue to sin – we are always, at the same time, saints saved through Christ and his righteousness, and sinners.  Crazy!  Through Christ’s loving acts – his death and resurrection – we are all glorious saints, just like in those in the paintings.  At the same time, we are also imperfect people who continue to mess up, hurt ourselves and others, and fall short.  And as sinner/saints, we are dependent on God’s grace and not on what we have done or haven’t done.

And what of the homeless man?  I don’t know his situation or circumstances.  I don’t know his story.  I have no idea whether or not he believes in Christ.  I have no idea if he’s been baptized.  But what if I were to act as if he were one of the holy saints of God?  What if I looked a bit closer and saw Christ in him?  How would this change things?

I still love medieval and Renaissance art.  The vibrant colors and masterful depictions of Biblical stories, classical myths, and saints continue to enchant me.  But looking around, I think that there are other beautiful works of art.  They’re not depictions done in the medium of gold leaf, rich paints or delicate carvings, but depictions artfully crafted by the fingers of God in flesh and blood.  They’re images with flaws and imperfections, shocks and surprises, but maybe if we look a bit harder, we might see a halo poking through.

© 2012. Annabelle Peake Markey. All rights reserved.

“Homeless Man Sleeping with His Bible”

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Sometimes I miss You breaking in.
I see only uneven and broken pavement,
People’s litter on the side of busy roads.
I hear sirens and see flashing lights.
I witness people without homes
in blistering sun and pouring rain.

But then I turn the corner.
I see bright and hearty smiles,
Friendships and joy littering the streets.
I hear laughter and see kids at play.
I witness strangers helping one another
in the Metro and on street corners.

© 2012. Annabelle Peake Markey. All rights reserved.

A song about “Big City Life:”

Ever since Sunday, I’ve been thinking about dear ole’ Doubting Thomas. Poor Thomas has gotten a bad rap for thousands of years for being a “doubter,” but I think he’s one of my favorite characters in Scripture because he doubts and he does so so honestly.

I have doubts. And I know others – deeply spiritual people – who, occasionally, have doubts. Does this mean that we are not truly believing in Christ? No, not necessarily. It just means that sometimes, we have questions and struggles. In other words, we’re blessedly human.

In thinking about the Gospel reading for Sunday (see below), I began pondering on Thomas’ request to touch Jesus’ wounds. I’ve also been thinking a lot about our own wounded-ness and the amazing fact that God works through and in spite of our wounds and brokenness to serve God’s will and bring about the kingdom in this world. That’s awesome!

But then I began thinking about whether or not we are really willing to reach out and touch the wounds of others – of those around us. Are we willing to come into contact with brokenness, hurt and pain to understand another’s story? Are we willing to sit with a homeless person and hear what they have experienced? Can we patiently journey with those who mourn or struggle with despair and be Christ to them? Dare we get close enough to extend our fingertips to believe and not doubt the injustice and suffering in this world – inequalities to which it is so easy to turn a blind eye?

God is calling us to reach out our hands and touch the wounds of the world – to not doubt or ignore the oppression, injustice and deplorable situations in our world. God is calling us to see the marks, the scars left on the souls of our brothers and sisters (only as they are willing to share them with us!) that we might walk with them and support them in the healing process.

Can we, like Thomas, encounter the wounds in ourselves and in others, and call out “My Lord and my God!” seeing the face of Christ in the world around us?

John 20:19-31
19When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” 20After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. 21Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” 22When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.” 24But Thomas (who was called the Twin), one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. 25So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands, and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe.”

26A week later his disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were shut, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” 27Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it in my side. Do not doubt but believe.” 28Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” 29Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.” 30Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book. 31But these are written so that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through believing you may have life in his name.

© 2011. Annabelle Peake. All rights reserved.

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