Follow us:

A Prayer for Hope

A few years back at a home constructed by the Women Build, we had a community pastor come and offer a prayer of blessing for the home. He was a large man and I sensed a gentleness about him. When he prayed he did so with great energy and enthusiasm. His pleas to God were passionate and seemed to come from a place of deep faith. As he prayed I smiled. His praying felt good to me. My style of praying and his are different and I would guess there are other religious differences between us, but his style was good to be around.

As he prayed he began to fervently cast out demons that might be hanging around the build or family. He sought to ensure that evil had no place around this Habitat family or build. It has been a while since I have been around when such prayers of exorcism were prayed and it got me thinking. I remembered reading a sermon entitled “Heal the Sick; Cast Out Demons” in the book “The Eternal Now”. The author was Paul Tillich, a 20th century German theologian. Tillich’s approach was much different than the pastor’s. Both would agree that there are demons that run rampant among us. But they would differ on what those demons look like and how they are cast out.

The pastor’s demons seemed to be more mystical. They were spirits not seen. Tillich’s demons were quite common and tangible. Tillich saw demons as hunger and malnutrition, poverty and substandard living conditions and other such evils. Tillich saw demons as issues of injustice that can be and should be addressed. Tillich suggested that when we fed the hungry, clothe the naked, care for the orphan or prisoner and shelter the homeless we cast out a very real and dangerous demon. The pastor was praying about a world unseen that it is hard for me to comprehend. Tillich’s view I understand all too well.

Could it be that Habitat is in the business of exorcisms? I mean inadequate, unaffordable, unsanitary and yes, deplorable housing can be seen as a present evil. It can be demonic in its effect. The bible describes personified evil as one seeking to destroy and devour. Certainly, the homes Habitat families often come out of are such that they suck life out of people both physically and emotionally. People who are cost burdened by their housing certainly have such limitations placed on their ability to prosper that it can be described as devouring a family’s opportunities. Perhaps as we build houses to call homes, we will be casting out demons? The strength, stability and self-reliance they find in their new affordable home may in fact cast out the demons that have sought to hold them back from all God intended for them to be. That is my prayer.