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One beautiful and glorious weekday night, some of our folks bought a stack of pizzas for a particular housing community downtown. They brought not only the food but also themselves into the courtyard of this beloved but downtrodden community.Many of the community’s residents are regulars on Thursday and Sunday night at Grace and Main Fellowship and are an integral part of our leadership and volunteer force. So, as our regulars came out to greet us with many hugs and kisses and slaps on the back, they called to their other friends with whom we have fledgling relationships still in need of much cultivation. As the Body of Christ in that community gathered around and related the little things that had been going on in their lives that week, the sense of community flourished. That abandoned space, long haunted by dealers, gangs, and the unscrupulously powerful, became a holy place where the Kingdom of God reigned – a place where the Lamb who Was Slain is King.
As we do before we eat a meal together as a community, we raised a few pieces of bread high and reminded all who joined us to eat, “What I give to you is what I received: that on the night in which Jesus was betrayed he took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, ‘Take. Eat. This is my body broken for you.’” As we passed the bread around the circle and remembered our Lord’s death, and conquest thereof, two local dealers began to approach the building to prey upon our beloved in their weakness. They were hesitant to approach such a large group and so they quietly encouraged some to come to them and “talk about something.”
You should have seen the dealers’ faces when their prey looked them in the eyes and said, “No.”
After our meal, when we passed the cup one to another, one of the community’s residents, a Grace and Main regular named Carol who started confronting these two dealers after spending a few months with Grace and Main, remarked with joy in her eyes, “Now they know that it’s not just me they have to deal with—it’s the whole Kingdom of God.”
Does this mean that the problem will go away? Of course not. Does this mean our beloved who were able to say “no” that night will always say “no?” Not always, but some are finding liberation easier and easier to come by. Does it mean that after this one experience of confronting the Holy Spirit that those dealers, who are victims and prey themselves of other predators, will repent of their sin and change their ways? Maybe not.
But it does mean something very important—for one night, in one community, in one area of deep and profound need, the Kingdom of God reigned in magnificence and sin and evil were made to flee from God’s Spirit. Yes, there are obstacles waiting, challenges yet to be overcome, and setbacks prepared, but for one glorious night, we were able to hear the words, “and the gates of hell shall not prevail against you” and voice our loudest “amen.” May your Kingdom come, Lord Jesus.