Posted on February 20th, 2017

Greetings From Capitol Hill,                                                                                           December 2016
 
After the birth of Jesus, after the shepherds and Magi left the scene and the chaos and hype simmered down we’re told that Mary stepped back and treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart (Luke 2:19).
As the chaos of 2016 draws to a close what are you treasuring up and pondering?
 
Recently, at our annual staff Christmas party, staff and volunteers pondered these numbers:
 
175 – That’s about the number of hours each of our shift leaders & volunteers invested in welcoming and loving those who walked through our door in 2016.
 
1,100 – That’s the number of pounds of coffee we served in 2016!
 
20,000 – That’s the number of hours Bill has spent hanging at Network since moving to Denver in 1988.
 
Numbers matter but the real stuff worth treasuring up and pondering come in the form of…
 
Lively front porch conversations through the dense fog of cigarette smoke.Countless games of chess and pinochle.Laughing at amatuer comedians telling bad jokes.Asking people to leave for being ornery… Asking people to come back because we miss them.Amatuer pastors listening to drawn out confessions, praying prayers, and wiping tears. 
Whether through hard-scrabble stories of pain or mini-celebrations over simple provisions there’s simply no doubting God’s presence here in 2016.
 
And so we follow the lead of a magnificent mom as we take meaningful time to rest, to treasure up the Presence, and ponder what it means to continue welcoming Christ into our world as a new year begins.
 
Network treasures you for keeping the vision of long-term redemptive relationships moving forward through your prayer, presence, and pennies.
 
One beggar to another,
                                                                                                            
 Ryan Taylor             

Posted on November 23rd, 2016

Greetings From Capitol Hill,                                                                                 November 2016
 
Two days after the presidential election amidst all the opinions and arguments recklessly buzzing among us, my wife and two sons stopped by to visit the Network. Eight year old, Josiah, plopped down across from Reggie and invited him to a game of chess.

Reggie obliged. I sat back and quietly observed as Reggie graciously proceeded to demonstrate how to play this wonderful game to this young man.

Around Network one of our jobs is to keep our eyes open to the presence of hope. Within this community recognizing and pointing out reasons to be encouraged and hopeful is vital. In my experience, nothing produces hope quite like the presence of youth among us. These days six out of our eight shift leaders are under the age of forty and many of our volunteers have yet to hit thirty. There’s a felt sense of vitality, curiosity, and a hunger to grow in the ways of the One who came to bring good news to the poor.

Network is a uniquely diverse place. The “Living of Room of Christ” as it’s been called is a beautiful cross-section of young and old, all shades of skin, along with a wide range of thoughts and personality.
 
Recently, many of our leaders have taken a moment in the middle of their shift to encourage one solid minute of complete silence followed by a prayer of blessing and encouragement. Just imagine, a room full of people from such different places sitting together, under the mercy, quieting their hearts in silence.
 
In a culture and time starved for hope, I’m giving great thanks for Network and for faithful supporters both young and old who sustain us. If you’re reading this and consider yourself among those needing a surprising jolt of hope this holiday season, come on in.
 
We’ll have the coffee on.
 
 
One beggar to another,

Ryan

Posted on August 4th, 2016

​Greetings From Capitol Hill,                                                                     July 2016
 
Mercy. What does that mean again? And why did John Hicks believe mercy was so central to the mission of Network?
 
In recent months I’ve been dwelling on the subject of mercy - attempting to wrap my mind around it for myself.
 
A few weeks back Lenny came into Network pitching a major fit claiming someone stole his bike and declaring, “I’m gonna kill whoever did this!”
 
I tried to console him, “Lenny, you’re a good man. You’re not gonna kill anyone today. Let’s talk this through.”
 
Lenny’s extra large hands gripped my shoulders as he pulled me close, looked me dead in my eyes and said, “Ryan, you’re wrong. I’m not a good man. If you only knew…” He proceeded to list off a colorful variety of corruptions and crimes in his life. I grimaced as I listened.
 
With all the courage I could muster I responded, “Lenny, I still believe you’re a good man – a child of God. I for one love you.”
 
Like a child, Lenny started sobbing and out poured more unfiltered honesty. His tears triggered my tears and his confessions compelled me to offer a few of my own. This went on long after the shift closed and our doors were locked.
 
Two rather large adult men sharing tears, honest words, and a brotherly embrace in the middle of a downtown Denver sidewalk…
Ok. I’m catching a glimpse of it. That’s it. That’s the holy ground of mercy.
 
Mercy comes from an ancient Old Testament word, hesed, which simply means God’s loving, loyal, compassion.
 
I suppose it’s nice to know the technical definition in my head, but what really greases the wheels of ministry is seeing mercy actively lived out among our beat down friends on the street and the remarkable staff and volunteers that keep showing up week after week after week.
 
All of you reading this letter have played a significant role in my development of mercy with your faithful presence and financial contributions. EVERYDAY God invites us to stand on the sidewalk with our honest reality – the tears, the joy, the brokenness and get consumed in the big loving embrace called Mercy.
 
One beggar to another,
 
Ryan Taylor    
                    

Posted on April 4th, 2016

​It was in my first year of hanging around the Network that Alex overheard me say that I was once the resident barber in my college dorm.
 
“So you do haircuts?” Alex asked.
 
Busted. And now I’m the barber of Network.
 
Last month Scratch asked if I’d trim his scruffy noggin. It’s actually quite an honor and it fits the mission of Network to a T.
Allowing me to take the scissors to your head demands trust! (Trust me.)
 
And for folks who have been bitten and betrayed more times than you can count, taking the risk to trust again would be like you and me attempting to climb Mt. Everest.
 
Occassionally, we are privileged to witness some of our folks begin to ascend that daunting mountain called TRUST.
 
Here at Network our staff are constantly echoing the words of Christ… “Do you trust me?”
 
How many times have I heard John Hicks say, trust is built upon mercy.
We developed trust because someone took a risk on us.
 
Network takes the risk of listening. We hear confessions. Lots of them.
We try to stay present.  On a good day we might even offer a haircut.
 
In the way of Christ, we’re all in the business of trust development – both within ourselves and with others. And with our friendships, family, bank accounts, and bodies.
 
GOD, like a barber who knows our heads enough to memorize the number of hairs on it, keeps tenderly asking that question, “Do you trust me?”

One beggar to another,

Ryan
 

Posted on January 26th, 2016

​I felt bad asking Philip to help pull out that nasty basement carpet.
 
Philip, a religious studies major at Westmont College, spent this past summer with us invested in Network. The day before heading back for his sophomore year, I asked Philip to tell me one highlight from his time at Network.
 
“The day I pulled up the carpet,” he said. And I laughed.
 
Philip said working side by side with long-time Network folk made him feel more at home - like family. Participating in that ridiculous carpet project allowed Philip to settle in and feel like one of us.
Philip’s story reminds me of Paul’s description of Jesus in Philippians chapter 2.
 
Although He existed in the form of God, Jesus did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a servant, and being made in the likeness of humans. (2: 7-8)
 
In the gospels, how often do we see the powerful Son of God just hanging out in the smelly boats of fishermen or sharing dinner in the home of despised tax collectors and prostitutes. Our friend, Philip, made coffee, played some chess, and pulled carpet. “I’ll be back every chance I get” he said.
 
Through God’s grace this has been the ministry of Network for 35 years. Open the doors, start the coffee, live and laugh side by side as if we all belong in this life together…
like a family. 
 
Thanks for serving us, Philip! And thank you Christ for the way you help us feel at home.  
 
One beggar to another,

Ryan





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