Several people from my congregation spent the part of the day cooking and preparing a meal for fifty people experiencing homelessness here in Los Angeles. This is the second year that we have participated in this winter shelter which prepares meals and provides overnight housing in our area of the city. It’s a much needed resource for a small number of people compared to the 60,000 people who are living on my city’s streets and in cars and in tents.
As the food was all set out and the perfectly chiffonaded basil was placed as garnish, the new director called the people to line up. One of our members said, “We are going to pray now” and the director told us that we were not allowed to pray.
Not allowed to pray? What should we do?
One said to her, “We always pray before we eat.” She responded, “You are not allowed to pray since we receive government funding.”
I interjected, “We are allowed to pray, we are just not allowed to force people to pray.” I then added, “Even congress opens with prayer.”
We are going to give thanks.
I said to the people, “I am going to pray before our meal.” I went on to […]