The year was 1999. No, this wasn't when I moved hereto Juneau to be pastor of Resurrection Lutheran, but rather when I first visited this fine town. My mother-in-law was living and working here, and so my wife and I took the opportunity to come and see this part of the world.
I remember my first trip downtown.
I remember seeing the Native art that was being displayed. I remember seeing shop after shop with interesting and unique items in the windows. I also remember how the uniqueness started to fade. I started to see one shop looking like just like another. That was, however, until I got to the Glory Hole.
I had no idea what the Glory Hole was, nor did I know that it was originally started with the help of local churches. What I did know was that this was someplace special. In the midst of a downtown area that seemed to be focused on selling, here was a place that seemed to have focus was giving. That is exactly what the Glory Hole is all about.
The Glory Hole is in the service of giving. Giving food. Giving community. Giving a place to get out of the rain (and I learned quickly that this in itself is huge). The Glory Hole also gives expectations. Those who come in for a meal are expected to help with chores and are expected to be sober. The gifts of The Glory Hole are focused around the mental, physical and even the spiritual health of the neighborhood.
The downtown is a neighborhood. There are people who live in or near downtown. This is not just a place for people to shop, but also for people to congregate. And like most congregations, when we (for it is not "they" anymore) come together, we receive the blessing of one another.
The Glory Hole reminds me of a sacred text that I once heard: "Master, what are you talking about? When did we ever see you hungry and feed you, thirsty and give you a drink?" The text continues: "Whenever you did one of these things to someone overlooked or ignored, that was me - you did it to me." (Matthew 25: 37)
For the downtown to remain the way the downtown should be, the Glory Hole needs to stay where it is currently located.
Pastor John Stevens