New Life in Hard Places


The volume from the singing in the back room of Shamrock’s Pub could not be contained. We tried. We kept closing the pocket doors behind every late arriver, behind every server carrying a tray of food. The singing was just plain rowdy. Finally, I went into the space next to ours to apologize to the other patrons. Who did I find next door but a gigantic table full of St Paul police officers eating a meal together. I froze, because it’s complicated. During this particular season, officers had just been killed at an demonstration in Texas. And our city was mourning another man with brown skin who had been shot by an officer. Humble Walk has dedicated activists who march, protest, show up. This table of officers looked exhausted and wary. I said, “I’m sorry that singing is so loud. We keep trying to close the door.” And one quickly said, “It’s okay. Leave the door open. We need it.” Right. Of course they do-we all do. 

Catrina is a PhD student studying our community. She is a researcher—which means she pays attention to details, takes notes, asks good questions and then offers theological insights. I LOVE her and all her work because so much happens so quickly that I often cannot quite keep up much less take time to reflect. This fall, during a conversation with Catrina she paused and said, “I think Humble Walk is growing because it’s Jesus working and healing wounds—wounds from damage that the church has done to it’s own people. Christianity is hurting it’s own people.” I know too many who have been wounded by church. I also know many who are healing from that damage because they are hearing God and experiencing church in a new way. Jesus is always working near wounds—bringing about new life.

The Prophet Isaiah tells us a shoot will grow.  A shoot shall come out from the stump of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots. 

Like all those annoying feral trees in every single alley in this city. Those shoots come up through the cracks in the pavement. We cut them back. And they come back, relentlessly. Jesus is like that. Relentlessly, persistently coming up through hard places—bringing about life and propping open the door. 

This church is bringing about new life in hard, tricky places. The persistence of God’s new life is evident all around us. Thank you for your faithful financial support of Humble Walk-it enables us to keep doing this work on behalf of church universal.