With summer coming to a close, it was time for a celebration. Thanks to the generosity of First Presbyterian Church of Allentown, who provided the ice cream and volunteers to serve, our RCI group enjoyed a cold treat on a hot summer day. There was plenty of shade on the lawn to sit and relax. Some enjoyed watching others play corn hole. After all the rain from this past week, people were happy to enjoy the weather and cold ice cream. There was enough ice cream and toppings for RCI folks to have seconds and thirds; everyone was happy.
It was a good mixture of people out on the lawn. As I walked around and over heard conversations, I could tell relationships were being formed and deepened. First Pres has served meals at Ripple Church many times and seeing the same people at RCI allowed them to enlarge the picture of what it looks like to live in downtown Allentown. They got a chance to hear and see what our RCI members do during the week. Serving a marginalized group once does not require too much sacrifice or investment. You can leave feeling like you have done some good, without realizing the complex web of issues that is at the root of their situation. The other option is to return or show up on a regular basis and in doing so form relationships. First Pres has been choosing the second option. They are learning what it means to be in solidarity and form relationships across social and economic boundaries. Something transformational happens when we practice solidarity. We begin to see the "other" as us, what affects them affects us. We start to learn that "other" has a name-- Lisa, Allen, Dave, Kristin, Mike-- and a story. We begin to understand the complex web of issues and fight so that our new friends can live safe and flourishing lives. And all because we chose to serve ice cream on a Wednesday afternoon.