By: Margie Quinn
Margie Quinn is a native of Nashville, Tennessee and recent graduate of the University of Georgia. After graduating in May with a Women’s Studies/French degree, Margie moved to Seattle to begin a one-year “Justice Leadership Program” through the UCC church. As part of the program, Margie is paired with All Pilgrims Christian Church and works for the Washington Low Income Housing Alliance during the week. The Housing Alliance, a statewide champion for housing and homelessness issues, is a powerful coalition of diverse organizations and individuals working together to build and protect safe, healthy, and affordable homes for everyone across Washington State.
A funny thing happened on the way to the church.
I was walking to church one afternoon a few months ago. I had just moved to Seattle, actually, and was exploring what would be my new neighborhood on Capitol Hill. As I strolled past a community garden, I noticed a woman sprawled out in a community vegetable patch. At first, I thought she was meditating or performing some sort of yoga pose with the veggies. I mean, I had just moved from Nashville and had heard some pretty interesting stories about Seattle. But, as I looked closer I noticed that her breathing was slow and irregular and that her face appeared almost bluish. Something was definitely wrong with this woman.
Instead of immediately rushing to her aid, though, I cautiously kept walking, hoping that maybe she was fine after all, and that I could ignore my gut feeling about her.
God has a great sense of humor. As soon as I turned away from the garden, a couple of men pointed her out to each other and asked me if I had seen her. “Oh yes,” I replied nervously.” “She doesn’t look well,” said one of the men. “Something is wrong with her.” And he went to her.
Do you remember the story of the Good Samaritan? A man was on his way from Jerusalem to Jericho when he ran into some robbers. They stripped him, beat him and left him for dead. The story goes that a Priest and a Levite passed the half-dead man without helping him. Then came a Samaritan. The Bible says that the Samaritan saw the man and was moved with such pity at the sight of him that he went to him. The Samaritan didn’t throw a couple of dollars at the beaten man or shuffle past him in hopes that the next person would see to his situation. He went to him.
I didn’t want to be interrupted the day I strolled through my new neighborhood. In fact, when I was interrupted, I chose to ignore it. I was a modern-day Priest or Levite who passed by a woman in serious need. Luckily, I witnessed the arrival of true Samaritans who went to her, who lifted her head up and checked her pulse, who told me to call 911 and who saved this woman’s life through their immediate action. They allowed for interruption in their day and by doing so, they took action and saved a life.
Housing and Homelessness Advocacy Day is just around the corner. As a person of faith, I could try and guilt you into coming with verses about how “faith without works is dead” and so on. Instead, though, I shared a story with you about interruption in which I failed to act. Failure, it seems, has moved me to act many more times than success has.
You have plenty of reasons not to attend our Advocacy Day on January 28th. You need to work. You have class that day. You don’t want to make the drive. You don’t think your presence is that important. These are good reasons not to go. But I ask you, what would it take for you to come to Olympia and advocate? Would it take an interruption?
I will be in Olympia in a few weeks with hundreds of housing and homelessness advocates. I want you there not because you will make me look good for helping plan a great event or because you will increase our turnout. I want you there because something happens when we go to people. Something truly powerful happens when we allow ourselves to be interrupted by the gospel. We find ourselves living out the parables that Jesus so boldly told. We find ourselves face-to-face with legislators and advocates who, like us, want safe, healthy and affordable homes for everyone.
When we go, when we gather as a body of people as part of a larger movement, when we allow interruptions like Advocacy Day to occur in our daily lives, what we find is an opportunity to act. We find a living, breathing force of advocates who go to people, driven by the passion for the well-being of people in their hearts. It is essential that we speak up and stay active in advocacy as people of faith because without us, the movement does not go forward.
Will you make your voice heard with me? Will you take a day to advocate for housing and homelessness issues?
Luckily for me, my failure to be open to interruption on the way to church was righted by another Samaritan’s call to action. Next time, though, I may not be as lucky. Christ calls us to “go and do likewise” – to live out the Samaritan’s actions in our own lives. Will you?
P.S. Don’t miss our “Interfaith Panel on Advocacy” at Advocacy Day this year! We will hear from faith leaders around the state on how their faith informs their advocacy.
 James 2:26