Ever wonder what we are up to Mondays at Sanctuary? This photo story will give you a closer look into a typical Monday drop-in. The fun, friendships, community, support, meal… but most of all, the togetherness and belonging, and walking through life with friends beside us. Please visit us anytime at our drop-ins. We’d love to meet you and spend time with you! We are learning to be a healthy and welcoming community — will you join us?
Before the drop-in even begins on Mondays, members of our community gather to prepare the lunch meal. Everyone is welcome in the kitchen, as we hang out, talk, joke, catch up on our lives, and get to know one another better — all while slicing bread, preparing sandwiches, cutting tomatoes and pickles, and making coffee and juice. For many of us who live alone, we feel blessed to prepare meals together as a family. And of course… depending on the day… there is always a little bit (or lot) of off-key singing! Any requests?
We keep the Monday meal simple… sandwiches, and sometimes a side of soup, rice, or hot chili, especially during the winter months. We are grateful that we partner with churches and community members who bring us snacks and dessert treats, which are always deeply appreciated by our friends. We’ve also been lucky enough to have a volunteer who has been baking bread for us, which means the sandwiches are delicious, the bread is hot from the oven, and the drop-in smells like home.
Every week, in the bright atrium with windows from floor to high ceiling, we set up enough tables and chairs for a large crowd. Usually 6-8 people per table, because we love to eat together, play cards, and spend time just hanging out and being present with one another. We love it when everyone gets involved in set-up and clean-up, because it means contributing and participating together as a community. Through the atrium windows, we’ve seen sun, rain, snow, wind, storms, and all the seasons. No matter what the weather, season, or holiday, the drop-in is always open!
We don’t serve our friends from behind a table or counter. We would rather sit with them, eat with them, and be around a table with them. This eliminates the power imbalance of ‘server’ and ‘served’, and lets us all be on the same level, as people in need and children of God. It means that no matter what our struggles, barriers, or different walks of life, we get to be sanctuary and receive sanctuary. We find healing. As we share our stories with each other, we also find our place in our larger community story and in God’s story.
If you ask us how you can help with lunch, we will tell you where we need you most: sitting with our friends and getting to know them. We recognize at Sanctuary that poverty stems largely from a lack of social connection. Many of our friends are homeless — not in the sense of lacking a physical structure where they can sleep at night (though many of them lack that too), but lacking a place where they have friends and family, a place where they belong and feel cared about. The more we get to know one another, and the deeper our relationships and connection, the more we find home together.
We are the same. We are different. We all want to be wanted. As you sit down with our friends, you might be surprised to find how much God meets you through them. How his truth and grace is for everyone. Many of our friends have been lonely, hurt, and excluded from community in the past. At Sanctuary, we get to make mistakes and we get to mess up, and we are always welcomed back and loved no matter what. We are learning what community means and what forgiveness means… and the learning never ends.
Most importantly, we love to have fun together! We love to laugh together, and relax together. We love to be ourselves. If you swing by a drop-in to visit us, you might find yourself caught up in a friendly game of euchre, crazy eights, or crokinole, doing a crossword, or learning to knit. While our community has experienced much sorrow and pain, we also find joy! We want to celebrate together the healing and good times God gives us, the amazing things he is doing in our midst, and his light that comes in darkness: “Behold, I am doing a new thing. Do you not perceive it?”
Children are very important to us in our Sanctuary community. They allow us to be present and feel joy in the simple moments. They teach us about vulnerability and trust and faith. They teach us to see the world through new eyes, through the eyes of Christ. They love us unconditionally and remind us that we are all children of God. They bring smiles to the faces of our friends, and allow us to be a part of a family that some of us have never had before.
Every week, at the end of our drop-in at 2:00pm, we gather together for an hour of informal bible study. We love to ask questions, wrestle with hard topics and truths, and share our worries and burdens. With God’s grace, we seek to know and love Christ together more deeply, to become more like him, and to pursue his love constantly, just as he pursues us. Each of us come with different backgrounds and levels of understanding, but we learn from each other, and everyone is always welcome. As we gather at the feet of Jesus, the gospel comes alive, and we realize we are the Samaritan woman, the tax collector, the blind man, the paralytic, the bleeding woman, Martha, Mary, Jairus… it is in them that we find our identity and value in God.