By: Rev. David Murillo, guest columnist, St. Paul Lutheran Church, San Antonio, TX
Swedish Dude: “You want to go to a subway party?
Me: Huh? Like…Subway…. sandwiches?
Swedish Dude: No. It’s a full on party. On the Subway train.
Me: Uh…. sure, why not”
This was the brief conversation I had with a very friendly Swedish tourist at a youth hostel in Munich, Germany about 10 years ago. Me and a few friends had just graduated from college and were backpacking through Europe. We were at the tail end of our trip and since we had very little money left for food or lodging we figured this thing, whatever it was, would be a good free option. It turned out to be. What ensued that evening was unforgettable. It was, as you imagine, a party in a subway. But so much more. A live band. A killer conga line. Strange food. Good vibes. Apparently, and to our amazement, this was a real thing. People literally show up and throw parties in city subways all over the world. What a peculiar and beautiful thing.
This is exactly what our Laundry Love ministry is like. It’s peculiar. It’s beautiful. It’s in a very public space. And it’s basically a full on party. Laundry Love happens the first Wednesday of every month from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. when a group of people from St. Paul Lutheran Church gather at a laundromat a few blocks from our sanctuary to throw a party. And like the subway party this ain’t a typical party. There is no cover charge. The food and drinks are free. And everyone is invited. This is a Luke 14 kind of party. Where the excluded and the disinherited are actively and intentionally recruited. The words of Jesus echo: ‘Go out quickly into the streets and alleys of the city and bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind and the lame.’
Laundry Love is an initiative born out of a desire to help people who are struggling financially by assisting them with their laundry. Its super simple. We show up. We bring food and soda. And we pay for laundry until we run out of quarters. Jesus does the rest. We eat and drink and wash and dry clothing together. There is a power to the neutral and public space of a laundromat. Every guest and stranger can become a friend. And what ends up happening is real community. We don’t do it as a service project or something we do to or for people. It’s an organic expression of living with others for the sake of Jesus and his Good News kingdom. Laundry Love is a tangible way to engage people on the margins and encourage everyday hospitality. And it’s so simple that any church can start a Laundry Love ministry.
That’s right, dude. The beauty of this is its simplicity. Everybody has to do their laundry. It’s a mundane task that needs to get done. But for some, paying for laundry is a financial burden that weighs heavy. Laundry Love seeks to lighten that burden one laundry load at a time. Laundry Love seeks to make the mundane meaningful. By bringing people together and breaking bread and offering prayers and simply listening to each other’s stories, we turn a chore into a feast. And it only takes a handful of quarters to get this party started.
For more information go to www.laundrylove.org