By Rev. Jeffrey Lee
Joy Lutheran Church
Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world. James 1:27
After my dad’s mom passed away, we moved into her house. My dad’s family had lived in that house since the great depression.
When we moved out in 1972, we learned that the house was 100-years-old and had been built for someone who had the same last name as one of the founders of that community.
Growing up, I thought that house was huge. My parents had a bedroom off the living room downstairs and there were two large bedrooms and a smaller one upstairs. On the east end of the living room, there was a large grate, probably a four foot square metal grate that was positioned over the furnace. That was the heat source for the whole house.
In the winter, when we would come into the house cold and damp and we would stand on that furnace grate. The heat would rise and quickly warm the body. We would stand there as long as we could stand it and then run outside again. A white fog of steam would rise from our damp pant legs. When we were ill and the fever gave you chills, it felt good to sit on that furnace grate.
That house no longer stands on the corner lot where we lived. The house was torn down and the hospital across the street built a garage for their ambulance. The lot doesn’t look as big as I remembered. The house had all of the problems a house of 100 years would have; it was drafty, heat was spotty, closets were small, basement was damp, plumbing was an afterthought, floors creaked, but it was home. This is where we found shelter and security as we grew up. This is where we polished our shoes on Saturday night and got ready for church and Sunday School. This is where we celebrated birthdays and holidays. But this is also where we were disciplined and scolded, where we ate and slept. This is where we were Jamaa, (Swahili for family).
On Sept. 11 at 6:30 p.m., Joy Lutheran Church invites you to watch the movie, “Road to Jamaa.” It is a movie set in Africa where families are experiencing devastating forces. Disease and starvation are leaving children orphaned. God has called us to help the widows and the orphans. It is our responsibility to help provide a sense of Jamaa, family security and love.