Friday, December 1, 2006

On The Waterfront

"If you need me, I'll be at the church." This was a statement made by a priest, played by Karl Malden, in the 1954 Acadey-award winning movie On The Waterfront.

He says it to a girl who has just found her brother murdered. She kneels, sobbing, over her dead brother's body. The priest tries for a moment or two to console her. Finally, when he sees he's getting nowhere, he utters that line: "If you need me, I'll be at the church."

Immediately I'm struck by the disconnect between her need and his statement. She needs a champion, someone who will find out who murdered her brother and help bring them to justice.

The priest, though well-meaning, has basically given up any responsibility and decides to head back to the safety of his church.

I wonder how many times people of faith have that same attitude.

"If you want help, come find us."

"If you need encouragement or hope, go look for us."

"Stop by our place and maybe we'll engage in dialogue with you."

"If you need me, I'll be at the church."

The girl, (played by Eva Marie Saint), responds incredulously. "At the church? Why would you go hide out at the church?" Where we need you is on the waterfront. People don't live in the church. People typically aren't lying bruised, bloody, and broken inside the church. They're at home, or in the office, or in the classroom, or on the line at the factory, or at the store.

That's where people are at. That's where the needs of humanity cry out for hope and the message of Good News.

May you be someone who takes the Good News to the waterfront.

Grace & peace.

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