-GAINS & GLEANINGS-
By J. Hogan
No good deed goes unpunished the cynical saying goes, and sometimes it sure feels that way.
Earlier this year Faithbridge church’s friend Mark Duffy, through his ministry 25FortyPGH, had a “Little Pantry on a Post” built for folks in the Sto-Rox area.
The pantry, about the size of a mini-fridge, is designed to have folks drop extra dry goods, diapers, and other things for people who find themselves in need.
It has been quite a conduit of goods from those flush with goods to those who can use them, filled by local residents nearly every day… and emptied pretty much every day as it blesses others.
In the five months it’s been in place by the Dale Street entrance used for the bi-monthly food bank, it’s also been vandalized three times.
It was vandalized again this week, probably by the same folks who broke a couple dozen shingles off the roof above the entrance’s stairs.
It was a rough week for the property, as someone a few days earlier had kicked in the man-door on the side of our storage garage, taking some pop-up canopies (we use them for Summer events and cookouts,) while leaving a used hypodermic needle behind.
It’s frustrating and many folks get quite upset by such things.
It often feels like the behavior of a few sends the message that the community as a whole is willing to take from those willing to help, but that they’re not very appreciative.
Of course, that’s not fair.
The broken door and the needle left behind don’t speak to the ingratitude of folks, they speak to the desperation of someone shackled with an addiction serious enough to have them wondering the dark hours of the night looking for things to steal to make enough money to get their next fix.
It’s a sad statement at that.
The vandalism seems to be the work of bored kids.
Teens doing mischief certainly doesn’t mean the single mother who’s coming to get macaroni and cheese mix and canned beans from the little pantry isn’t grateful. She’s being blessed by Mark’s ministry, and that matters to her and her hungry kids.
I grew up in and around Focus on Renewal, and they did and do good work.
It’s always come at a cost.
That’s the nature of Christian ministry… doing for others is good work, work that can be emotionally fulfilling, beneficial in many ways It’s about the folks being helped, not those helping, so we’re supposed to serve humbly, not tooting our horns about how wonderful we are for every decent thing we do.
The model for that, of course, is Jesus.
He came to show the way, and to make the way of reconciliation between humans and God. Sinless, He took the sins of the world upon Himself, to the cross… then was resurrected.
The good there is incalculable. The sacrifice and suffering involved was the cost of doing that good.
Christians, don’t grow weary of approaching this from a sacrificial, beneficial stance - even when you feel burned by others for the trouble.
We are “followers of Christ” called to “pick up our cross daily.”
Our cross, especially when we’re actively blessing others but in need of a break or in the midst of a real busy time, can seem heavy. It can feel, at those times, like we’re carrying the weight of the world.
Jesus actually did carry the weight of the world.
Our burden is never as heavy as the one He carried in order to bless us.
Rev. James Hogan is a native of Stowe Township and serves as pastor of Faithbridge Community Church in Stowe.