I’ve kissed a junky’s hand

"In a conflict between the police and a group of young people gathered Sunday evening as a tribute to Alexis Grigoropoulos, a Greek teenager, three policemen were injured, and 35 people arrested in downtown Athens, Greece.                      
Greek agency ANA reported it’s peaceful in Athens after last night’s conflicts. The group of young people showered the policemen with Molotov cocktails, after which the response was shock bombs and tear gas. About 50 people gathered in Exarchia city block, which is a popular meeting place for anarchists and a place where policeman Epaminondas Korkoneas shot 15 year old Grigoropoulos from a fire gun and killed him on December 6th 2008. APF claims that protesters burned both trash cans and parked automobiles."

Today I walk the very same streets. Cars burned, marks left on pavement after Molotov cocktails, smell of gasoline and tear gas still in the air. Visible signs of anarchists, flags, and graffities. It is quiet, but tension is present.    

Down the same street is an Evangelic Church – The Church of God, the reason of my visit. At the door is a graffiti written by anarchists – To enter all churches (Anarchism as political movement that aims to abolition of all forms of state institutions which shall be replaced by self organized society of equality). It wasn’t meant as entering for the Word of God, but entering to abolish church as institution. Our host, Pastor of this church, stopped by to check whether the treats were conducted and the church was damaged.  It wasn’t. 

The very block Exarchia, is boiling with tension – emigrants, brothels, drug addicts, drug dealers… Just a few hundred meters away from the University and the Parliament a completely different world. I cannot say this world, this mixture of creativity, arts and evil is not interesting to me; I look at it all with my eyes wide open. I almost wish to switch places with my host Pastor, to serve God in this place… It is a world of confusion and chaos and brokenness, covered up not to be noticed from the main street, but strong and present.

While walking, we encountered an Orthodox priest. An elderly man, perhaps in his sixties, educated, a professor. Friend to our host, so we introduced, shared few words about where we came from and what are we doing in Athens (apologetics training)… so I mentioned this part of my calling to work with drug addicts. And this priest started his story.

“Just yesterday, a junky approached me at this very street corner, asking for some money. I took some money from my pocket, pressed it in his palm, bowed down and kissed his hand” he said. I first thought I misunderstood the priest’s poor English, that it was the opposite, that this junky kissed the priests hand, but he continued his story: “The junky looked at me in wonder and asked me – Why do you kiss my hand? I answered – Your hands also need to be kissed.” This old man, a priest, kissing hands of a junky begging for money; respecting him as a human, seeing worth in him, in this broken man, in this broken city block, in this place of conflict and evil.

The Church of God, Athens, Greece 
Just like Christ – God who came to this world of evil and chaos, to give worth to us people, “kissed our hands”. The image of tiny old man still hovers in my mind while I’m typing this blog in my hotel room. Image of a man who imitates Christ, renouncing his own title… fulfilling the words of Apostle Paul in Philippians 2:  "Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus,  who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped,  but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.  And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.  Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name,  so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth,  and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

A call for me (you) to: 1. Empty myself, to follow the image of Christ and be the one who adds worth to people around me; 2. Love this broken world; not just like it but to genuinely care for brokenness to be healed; 3. Celebrate Christ’s “kissing of hands” even more at this Christmas, for Christ has by his birth, death and resurrection, given to me, a sinner, gave worth I certainly do not deserve. 

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