Being panhandled and Lazarus

the Gospel according to Luke

being panhandledI read about fillyjonk being panhandled INSIDE of her local Walmart, and it reminded me of something.

My wife and I had to take a fairly large piece of art to be reframed. It was raining, so I had two large plastic bags over it, which was awkward. This guy comes up and asks for a dollar.

To tell the truth, I tend to be a reasonably easy touch for people who need money. But I had both hands full, and my wife was holding an umbrella, trying to keep me and the art dry. So I said, “Sorry.” And I was. But, dude, don’t you recognize situational panhandling? People with full hands are not likely to stop, especially in the rain.

But on the way back to the car, with my hands empty, I actually looked for the guy to give him some money. I didn’t see him.

That week’s sermon was about Jesus’ parable about Lazarus and the rich man from Luke 16: 19-31. It is the scripture that inspired the theological leanings of Albert Schweitzer. You try to help the poor.

The kicker

Oh, the piece of art being reframed was the picture of Jesus that our daughter created. About a month earlier, it was at the church, being moved so that it would not be damaged either by the film crew making The Gilded Age or by the folks running the August election primary.

Almost as soon as it was carried onto the small stage, everyone heard a loud CRASH. I knew instantly that it had been the glass protecting the piece. Also, the frame got bent. The guy who dropped it felt absolutely terrible, as he told my wife and me several times. Stuff happens, even to representations of the Lord.

I found it amusingly ironic that I couldn’t help the poor because I was carrying an image of Jesus.

Oh, and to those of you who might suggest that I shouldn’t give money because I should refer them to the appropriate social service entity, two things. 1) I do give to such entities, but 2) saying to someone to go somewhere else, if it’s a small ask, just doesn’t feel right.

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