Coming home on the bus tonight, we passed by a homeless man with his empty Tim Horton’s cup, sitting on the curbside of a busy corner. A family of several generations crossed his path, well-dressed, likely on their way to some fine Toronto entertainment. The adults picked their way around him, but there was a boy with them, about nine years old. He walked within inches of the bundled-up man, and openly stared as he passed by. I could sense his questions and childish wonder – why is this man here? why does he have nowhere to live? why does no one look at him? why doesn’t he look at me? It seems we grow out of those questions and formulate our educated opinions which make us comfortable with doing nothing, at least very little. But the child challenges us to look again, to stare impolitely and perhaps meet the gaze of poverty. I don’t have an answer, but that doesn’t mean I forget the question.
There’s a song by Jason Upton I recently rediscovered called “Power in Poverty.” It stares impolitely into my heart and desires.
There’s a power in poverty that breaks principalities
That brings the authorities down to their knees
There’s a brewing frustration and ageless temptation
To fight for control by some manipulation
The God of the kingdoms and God of the nations
The God of creation sends this revelation
Through the homeless and penniless Jesus the Son
The poor will inherit the Kingdom to come
Where will we turn when our world falls apart
And all of the treasures we’ve stored in our barns
Can’t buy the Kingdom of God?
Who will we praise when we’ve praised all our lives
Men who build kingdoms and men who build fame
But heaven does not know their names?
What will we fear when all that remains
Is God on His throne, with a child in His arms, and love in His eyes
And the sound of His heart cries?