The Rev. Twila Smith
Grace & Mediator, Allentown

“Pay to all what is due them – taxes to whom taxes are due, revenue to whom revenue is due, respect to whom respect is due, honor to whom honor is due.”
– Romans 13:7

City buses form their own sort of community and, most days, these are my regular traveling companions. I have yet to meet anyone in this region who rides the bus because it is the “green” choice; they just don’t have other options. Some ride because of disability, but mostly it’s because they cannot afford cars.

From my companions, I know employers who hire just below the benefits line, the low-wage jobs where temp status and frequently-changing shifts are the norm. Many work two and three jobs to piece together rent, and lose them when they get sick. I watch them parent their kids, study for community college classes, sneak bites of dinner (not allowed on the bus), and fall asleep on noisy, bumpy rides.

Here, in this bus community, respect and honor for one another is the norm. In this close way of traveling, people are aware of their neighbors. At every stop to let passengers on and off, there is a gentle rhythm of shifting to make room. Prime spots are given to those in need. People catch runaway water bottles and pass them back, help with strollers and carts and loads of groceries, chat with strangers, and hand over change for short fare. This time of year, we’re all sweating together.

Our common humanity is given the honor it is due. A culture of respect is chosen. This, by many who are not shown such respect when they get off the bus.

The Way to which God calls us, as my traveling companions remind me, honors Christ in one another – not because it is required or demanded or a notice comes in the mail. The route of Jesus shows me how to live and move with respect, especially for those in need. Traveling this Way invites us to make room, be aware, notice others, help where we can … recognizing that we are all on this bus together.