Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Nathan Tasker is Homeless (Guest Blogger)

A break in my Judas posts.

Nathan and Cassie Tasker have a roof in Nashville. But they are visiting us in NYC (in case you haven't been reading the Blog). They are a source of joy to Laurel and me. They joined Christ Church NYC for our regular time with the homeless men at the New York City Rescue Mission. He wrote a note on his Facebook page, and I reproduce it here as my guest blogger. Nathan points out that 'we are all homeless until we find our home in Jesus'.

This is Nathan singing on Monday night at the Rescue Mission. I'll let Nathan speak for himself:

Last night I played some songs at the New York City Rescue Mission. For 136 years, New York City Rescue Mission has been reaching out to homeless men in Lower Manhattan, providing emergency services such as food, clothing, shelter, counseling and spiritual hope. And last night, I got to be involved in a very small way.

Once a month, a team from Christ Church New York, led by my great friend Justin Moffatt, head to NYC Rescue Mission to lead the guys there in a small chapel service. They sang some hymns (or at least listen to us sing the hymns!) and heard a talk from the Bible. Many of them were exhausted and therefore asleep, however others sang along and listened. It is such a varied range of circumstances that lead people to this point in their life. Addiction, unemployment, mental illness, family breakdown all serve to tear hope from so many guys, leaving them alone and homeless on the streets of NYC. My heart ached for the lives that are stuck in a sad kind of limbo, but it also made me grateful for the work that the staff at NYC Rescue Mission do. They are like the giant fingers that come down and pull the needle out of the groove in the record, allowing the music to go on (or something like that!).

I couldn’t help but think about the life of Jesus during the service. After all, He once said He had no place to rest His head – as far as we can ascertain, Jesus didn’t have a permanent residence during His time on earth. That would’ve made Him homeless! And the truth of the Gospel is that we are all homeless until we find our home in Jesus. Really, the difference between the guys I met last night and myself, is that I have a roof and four walls that I own to go home to. Spiritually though, we are the same. Without Jesus, I am broken, in need of a home, healing, forgiveness, a new start, life.

I would almost go so far as to say that the message of Jesus made more sense in that humble environment than it often does in our beautiful church sanctuaries. Brokenness had a smell last night that couldn’t be covered up by Sunday's best clothing.

One last thing, Matthew 25 (“what you do for the least of these, you do for me”) rings in my ears, reminding me that my response to the poor, the needy, and the homeless directly reflects my love for Jesus, and my understanding of His love for me. You have no idea how much I wish I could rationalize, and theologize my way out of the truth of Matthew 25 – life is a whole lot easier when you only have to concentrate on your own spiritual growth! But that is not the way of Jesus, and I need to remember this and be deliberate in the way I live it out.

It’s not easy, and I think that is part of the reason that God places us in community. I need you to encourage and remind me of the things I would rather forget or put aside. And we need each other to go out and shine the light of a new community, rescued by God, for God – a community where hope is bigger than hopelessness, where we journey together toward a home that is being prepared for all who believe.

I sang “Glory to His name” last night. The last verse sums up the hope we offered those guys, who I won’t forget…

“Come to this fountain so rich and sweet
Cast thy poor soul at the Saviour’s feet
Plunge in today, and be made complete
And we’ll sing Glory, Glory to His name”

Soli Deo Gloria,


Come and hear Nathan in concert this Thursday. You can also RSVP on Facebook.



Gordon Cheng said...

Thanks for that Justin (and Nathan!)

There are lots of places to go in the Bible that talk about looking after the poor, eg

Prov. 14:21 Whoever despises his neighbor is a sinner,
but blessed is he who is generous to the poor.

Prov. 14:31 Whoever oppresses a poor man insults his Maker,
but he who is generous to the needy honors him.

But I wonder if Matthew 25 is legitimately used in this way? I think the key is v 40, where

"Matt. 25:40 And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’"

and identifying who "the least of these my brothers" is. Notice that at stake in such treatment is heaven and hell.

But I wonder if the identification of these people is not so much the generally poor and imprisoned (who would have received alms even from the Pharisees) but the disciples themselves—see Mt 10:40 and 42 especially, and also Mt 28:10.

Don Carson argues this in his Matthew commentary.

michael jensen said...

It must be hard to be omniscient, Gordon, it really must.

Craig Bennett said...

Hmmmm as much as I like and respect Don Carson. Me thinks he has it wrong about this issue.

Craig Bennett said...

I love Nathan's reminder that we are all homeless.

That puts us on equal footing when ministering to the poor, homeless, lonely etc. Which causes us to respect all people with the dignity of being made in God's image.

Which is much better than treating them out of a attitude in that we are strong and they are weak.