Homeless Film Club 2012

Here’s a short 2012 report I wrote for St. Stephen’s  C of E Church on the film club for the homeless:

2012 was a year of growth for the St. Stephen’s Film Club for the homeless which met each week except for the month of August and on New Year’s Eve. We began an official relationship with a small charity, Streetlytes, as they agreed to cook a good hot meal for all of our guests each week.

streetlyte

Typically, volunteers from Streetlytes arrive about 2:30pm to beginning the process of preparing the evening meal. Between 3:30 and 4:30pm, volunteers for the evening film club return the seat cushions to the upstairs loft and set up tables for the evening meal.

From January to July, Edd Stock was responsible for selecting and purchasing the DVDs. Most of the films where action oriented with titles such as Ironman, Star Wars and Raiders of the Lost Ark. With Edd’s departure, the responsibilities for the club were divided between Amy Shearing, Rudi Richardson and myself, Chris Hatch. Amy selects and secures the DVDs, Rudi overseas the meal and other Streetlytes initiatives while I coordinate the volunteers and serve as chaplain. We continue to watch a number of action films but Amy has broadened our selection to include some comedy, drama and even one silent classic film, The General. The film club was moved from Thursdays to Mondays in the autumn of 2012 to accommodate the Streetlytes weekly schedule.

The film club grew in numbers as we now average about 80 guests each week with 10 to 15 volunteers helping to serve. We distributed clothing, sleeping bags and other donations from local businesses, the New West End synagogue and Muslim Aid during the year. We ended the year with a Christmas dinner for over 100 guests and 25 volunteers on Christmas Eve. The mounting of the projector in the late autumn was a significant improvement as it reduced both set-up/tear down time and the possibility of accidental damage to the projector.

We have had our share of problems during the year but none which were beyond what would be expected when dealing with a broken and vulnerable population. There were a few arguments, instances of alcohol drinking and other disorderly conduct but none of which resulted in the calling of the police in 2012. We did have three of our Polish guests die in December which shows the tragic nature of life on the streets of London.

There have been numerous highlights during the year – genuine friendships which have grown, the growing diversity of the guests, and stories of new jobs, new accommodations, and new spiritual life. God is at work in the lives of those who come together each week for a meal and a movie. For as Jesus said in Matthew 25, “Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.” We look forward 2013 as we continue to serve “the least of these” in our community.

What To Do with “The Hulk” Within

When I was a child my favorite super hero wasn’t Superman or Batman. My favorite superhero was HULK!Bill-Bixby-Lou-Ferrigno

On “The Incredible Hulk” TV show from the late 70’s, Bruce Banner would get into a conflict with some baddies and then say “You don’t want to make me angry. You won’t like me when I’m angry” He would then change into Hulk and save the day.

But isn’t that how we sometimes feel? “You better not make me angry. You won’t like me when I’m angry”  There’s a wild beast inside of us that we can’t control. If external factors trigger the beast, then we explode Hulkinto a fit of anger.

In Ephesians 4:26, Paul seems to be saying something different – “Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger”

He lets us know that there can be change in our emotional lives. Change can come but it must come from the inside. We may try external pressures like rules or education to restrain the Hulk living inside of us. But there’s a monster looking for an excuse to be released. The bible calls it our sinful nature or the flesh.

Galatians 5:16-17 puts it like this: “But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other”

If you are a follower of Christ, then Jesus has given you his Spirit. God has given you a new heart which allows you to make choices that are pleasing to God.  The Spirit will give you power to to change over time.

This verse tells us to “walk by the Spirit and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.” What does that mean?

Review the beauty of the gospel again and again in your mind so that it warms your heart.  Jesus died on the cross to take the punishment for your sins – even the emotional outbursts of anger which mark you life. Think about that again and again.

But what does have to do with anger? Everything.

For as your heart is filled with the mercy of God poured out for you on the cross – change will come. Jesus is making all things new – even your emotions. The old Hulk will fade away and new emotions, even in the face of the “baddies”, will mark your life by the grace of God.

100% + 100% = 100%

In university, I had a professor who used the phrase  “100% + 100% = 100%” to describe our growth as Christians.  100% of God’s work + 100% our work = growing to be like Jesus.
100-percent
Paul says it this way in Philippians – “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure” (Phil 2:12b-13)

100% effort on our part working out our salvation plus 100% of God’s effort working in us equals growth in grace.  You don’t save yourself – salvation is a gift of grace – but work out what it means to become more like Christ in your situation. Work hard!! Paul is passionate here – he’s calling people to strive for holiness.

But at the end of the day – who gives us strength? God. Who is at work to make us more like Jesus? God. How is true change going to come? God.  He has to be at work if true, lasting change is going to come to our lives.

God wants us to live holy lives which are pleasing to him.  Not because he’s an arbitrary God who sits up in heaven dreaming up little tricks for us to do. No – God loves his children and his given his law as a blessing for us to live lives as he, our Creator, intended.

God calls us to give 100% effort in our to be more like Jesus.  But remember he’ll bring his 100% as well.  And his 100% really is 100%, unlike our puny efforts.

Relax as you strive for holiness.  God’s at work.

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