This week's blog is a special guest post from Jim Sanders, a member of Christ Church for 33 years. Last summer I put out a call to the congregation for donations of wrist watches to give out to our homeless brothers and sisters who often do not know what time it is in order to get their meals and take their medications. Jim Sanders came by the office. He was holding a brand-new watch that he bought for us to giveaway. We chatted a while and I learned that Jim had not volunteered in outreach because he thought he might not have anything to offer. But I also learned that Jim plays the trumpet. I had long dreamed of a musician playing music while our guests shop at the Lazarus Food Pantry. Since that time Jim comes when he can and plays. The guest love it and the volunteers do as well. At Christmas he was quite a hit with his traditional carols. Jim sent us this piece and he agreed to allow us to publish it. - Melanie Gray

To those who know them only through media coverage, famous people have a way of becoming almost an abstraction, lacking the tangible reality of people with whom one interacts daily.  Such, for me, was the case with Archbishop Desmond Tutu, distinguished clergyman and key participant in South Africa’s long, and ultimately successful, struggle against apartheid.

1.25.17-guest.jpgThat quickly changed on January 19, 2004.  Abstraction became reality, when the Archbishop appeared in person to preach at the 9:00 a.m. Sunday service at my parish, Christ Church in Old Town Alexandria, Virginia, where his daughter Mpho Tutu had been ordained the day before.

Bounding through the aisles exuding energy and radiating an infectious smile, the Archbishop shattered the stodgy eighteenth-century decorum of a sanctuary frequented by George Washington and Robert E. Lee, with hugs and fervent embraces for literally everyone he could get his hands on. 

Complete nobodies, those on no A-lists, were treated to a royal display of Christian love rarely seen in the old colonial house of worship. No mere gestures, his enthusiastic behavior made me feel like I actually mattered, bestowing a sense of significance often missing in large, bureaucratic parishes, where too often Sunday is like just another day at the office. 

Ascending to the pulpit, he struck a chord immediately, as I noted in my diary entry for the day, by describing himself as "old-fashioned."  He said he was a firm believer in "house visits.  

“A house-going priest,” he averred, “makes for a church-going people.” 

By visiting people in their homes, a priest becomes familiar with every little thing about them, he said, and by that means expands his or her conception of the magnitude and glory of God’s creation.  Everything "is gift," he assured his listeners, most of whom kept their eyes glued to him the entire time he spoke.

Suddenly, it felt cool to be a "nobody" and the wellsprings of strength and resilience that reside in common people, and which finally defeated apartheid, became evident. 

A populist before the term became a dirty word, the Archbishop affirmed that ordinary people really do matter.