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in loving memory, Jimmy

on friday, we grieved the death of our dear friend, Jimmy. Jimmy was a kind man, who lived with integrity and wisdom, and was a central part of Sunday Supper Church. Jimmy was actively involved with the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless, and lived in permanent supportive housing at Breakthrough. at his memorial, we all shared stories, ate cookies, played music, planted a tree and wrote notes to him on balloons. it was sweet & sad, and a moment i'll treasure forever. 

when we began Sunday Supper Church last year, we dreamed of a place where a diverse group of people would preach to each other, seated around a table, eating dinner, reflecting the divine & human image of Jesus. my personal theology believes that Jesus's very favorite people are the poor, and that we're all better when we listen & follow those with little money. i remember meeting with Arloa at Breakthrough, early on in the planning of SSC, asking her advice on how to create a table for all. she said it was difficult, but the key was to authentically & organically follow the poor.  

we did our best to take her advice, believing that Jesus's pastors & prophets were those experiencing homelessness. for thanksgiving, we created the widest table our space could hold, and invited friends from Breakthrough to join us for a friendsgiving celebration. this was the first night we met Jimmy! he walked in with his wise & peaceful presence, smiling kindly, and making us feel like instant friends. my friends courtney & karen set up a glam station that night, so that all of us could have our hair done, and Jimmy was the first in line, looking sharp in his fresh cut. 

in the months that followed, Jimmy showed up sunday-after-sunday, sharing & listening, reflecting the peaceful presence of Jesus each time. at his final Sunday Supper Church, as we focused our conversation on our enemies, Jimmy preached his most powerful sermon around the table. as we each shared specifics about our enemies, Jimmy leaned back in his chair taking it all in. finally, when everyone had finished, i asked Jimmy who his enemy was. he said--i have no enemies. i live my life to be at peace with all. we were all silent as he spoke, all of us so consumed in those who had wronged us, we hadn't even paused to consider if not having enemies was a possibility for our lives. simple, powerful words that will forever guide our lives. 

here's the thing: i had spent A LOT of time preparing for that night. and a whole lot of time thinking about my enemies. but, never once, did i consider saying what Jimmy said. and THAT is the magic of the table, and the magic in inviting Jesus's favorites to the table. 

this coming sunday, Jimmy's friend John will lead us in communion. our theme is peace, and John will invite us to experience peace as we are fed by Jesus through the bread and cup. i named John our resident Prophet because he usually delivers God's messages to us in encouraging words & insight, and so to be led in communion by him, will be rich and powerful, and i guarantee we'll be fed by Jesus in ways none of us could have planned or led better. 

for me, this is church. we'll keep going, filling our tables wider & wider with Jesus's best people. 

Jimmy, we miss you, and our table is lacking because you are gone. we'll do our best to reflect the image of Jesus we learned from you & saw in you--sharing peace, wisdom, smiles, and kindness with all. we thank God for your life, and for the privilege of knowing you. 

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