Written by Rich Thompson, FFH Chaplin, for the Nov 15th Open House
Dearly Beloved, the dedication of the laundry and shower facilities here today seems, on the face of it, not to compare with the blessing of a religious edifice as has traditionally been defined. In fact, washer/dryers do not seem comparable to piety, when it comes to sanctification. Yet it’s been truly said that “A society that doesn’t hold its plumbing in as high regard as its philosophy, will find that neither its pipes nor theories will hold water.” And in regard to the occasion at hand, let me suggest that there’s more than meets the eye to another old adage, “Cleanliness is next to godliness.”
For us who live in middle class homes, we are likely to take our amenities for granted. We often take showers first in the morning to help wake us up and send us fresh into the day, without giving it a second thought. We likewise are apt to throw our clothes into the laundry on the assumption that it just comes as part of the American Way of Life and for having the washing and drying machines located in some convenient part of the house.
But what our homeless friends remind us is that we should not take any of these blessings as a matter of course. And what has now been provided in their behalf here because of the hospitality extended by this host congregation, made possible by the devoted efforts of skilled craftsman and community supporters, is to be treated as a sacred offering of love.
I use the term sacred intentionally, because cleanliness is in fact next to godliness, because as humans, who are made in the image and likeness of God, we are meant to affirm the self- esteem of all persons. Conversely, an individual’s self-confidence is shaken when going out into the world with unwashed body and unclean clothes.
In addition, there is something about taking a shower which is more than applying soap and water. Have you ever found yourself singing in the shower? Or like author Erik Larson admitted when he spoke at Fort Collins Reads last year, how he often gets his best ideas, doing his most creative thinking, while in the shower. There’s something inspiring, even soothing for all of us under warm water. We now will be able to share that gift with others who do not have all the comforts of home.
Therefore, I submit, we are indeed about the holy today. I’ve had occasion to say in regard to the congregations hosting in FFH that they are sanctifying their space, by letting Sunday School rooms be turned into bedrooms. In fact, I might even suggest until every faith community in this city makes its facility available to homeless persons in some way, that building has yet to be sanctified.
The Mennonite Fellowship of Fort Collins has done that and now more by letting its space be converted for these cleaning facilities. So with its members and all others of us assembled who have contributed to the effort, I bid us now pray:
O God, the fount of every blessing, we ask your benediction upon all within our city who have no place to call home. We pray that the hospitality which is extended to them here may become sacramental, the means of grace, through which they find hope for the future and the love of your Holy Spirit each day, in whose name we pray, as all the people say, Amen.