q Lent XXIX - Eileen Campbell-Reed
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Lenten LIghts CC ~ You Rock!

Earlier in Lent I met a man who calls himself “Black Elvis.” He’s quite an interesting guy, full of life and humor and joy. Today, we met again when he sat down at the table I was serving at Luke 14:12. It was great to reconnect with him. And it only took him a few minutes to remember our meeting three weeks ago.

Elvis at Luke 14:12

When I shared the story of meeting Larry Morris, my friend, Amy Dodson-Watts, the director of Luke 14:12, said, “He’s been eating at Luke 14:12 lately!” Turns out he still does. Today he lit up the dining room with his jokes that end with punch lines from Elvis Presley’s greatest hits.

He points to the FedEx delivery man and says, “He brought me a package. You know what I told him?”
“No, what?” I ask.
“Return to sender!” Those in earshot grin and laugh. We joke and tease with others around the table, and he eats his lunch so he can return to his work selling The Contributor. He tells me, “You rock!” That’s his message of encouragement to everyone he meets.

Before he goes we pose for a picture. I feel the power of good news in the Nashville community. I know this man. And significant reason that I do is a result of the long hours and hard work of hundreds, maybe thousands of people at Room in the Inn, Luke 14:12, The Contributor, and other agencies, many of them faith-based, that work to humanize and care for men and women in Nashville who live at the margins, the working poor.

To change the conditions that create poverty and make pathways out of poverty, relationships and community are basic and essential. I’m grateful today for faithful relationship- and community-building where God’s spirit of compassion and justice is at work in our city. Today, while serving tables at Luke 14:12, I felt a moment of living more fully into the covenant of my own congregation which urges me to: “see where God is at work in the world and join in that work.”