By Elaine Knudtson


I knew him before his world collapsed.

He shuffled into church alone: needy, poor, broken.

Vulnerability alarms me.

Jesus descends into darkness and stretches his arms to embrace the world.

I approve, but not in this space.

Sickness is death,

Poverty is scarcity,

Mental illness is entanglement.

Keep these away from me.

I will pray for those in the world; I fear them in this space.

Their existence contrasts with my self-righteousness,

Revealing coldness, inhospitality and fear.

Love is easy when it requires no interaction with the unlovely.

The beggar turns to me.

 “The peace of the Lord be with you,” he says as he extends his hand,

Exposing my poverty in this sanctuary.


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Paul was a preacher and teacher until he retired in 2015. He continues to write and listen to what God is saying to him in the ordinary and extraordinary things of life. Elaine was a public school teacher and administrator until she retired in 2018. She is using her retirement to reflect on God's work in her life and to share insights with her family and friends.

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