At St. Matthew Trinity Lutheran Church’s Lunchtime Ministry in Hoboken, N.J., about 65 people each day come through the doors for a warm meal, extra clothing, a listening ear and a brief respite from the streets many live on each day. On Mondays, volunteers provide free haircuts. On Wednesdays, Chef Bill makes special “bill-ritos” from scratch. Every day, visitors are welcomed like honored guests, treated with the respect and hospitality that can be hard to find when you are experiencing homelessness.
Hoboken is a long way from Calvary. But for people who face the threats of homelessness, hunger and poverty, the shadow of the cross looms large. The jeers of the crowd that greeted Christ on that lonely hill are echoed in the derision and dismissal so many of us and our neighbors face when living in shelters, in cars or out on the street. The threat of a legal and political system tilted against Christ is felt still today, as laws that criminalize poverty and homelessness make the challenges our neighbors face seem almost insurmountable.