Last night I had an encounter with a man carrying a Bible as I left my United Methodist Church. He said he was leaving the Baptist Church from across the street and had only had one drink that day. I congratulated him and then he asked for money. I told him I didn't have any cash on me but that tomorrow was our food pantry day and we could give him food. He was horribly insistent and it got a little tense as he was blocking me from my car. I kind of ducked under his arm and got in the car and rummaged around until I came up with a dollar and change to give to him. He said he needed it for the bus. My logical thought was "Well, how did you get to your church service and didn't you anticipate the need for a way home, or why not ask one of your church people for a ride?"
I know that it was made even more awkward (in my own mind) because I have a clergy sticker on the window of my car. I really don't carry any cash around with me except the change that ends up in my car ashtray. It is too easy to spend and is untraceable from a personal accounting standpoint, so I wasn't lying to the man.
I used to be a military police officer and it became a matter of feeling threatened. I don't know if I handled it in as gracious manner as I could have and that bothers me. As a Christian, I wonder at how we handle such situations and perhaps one of the solutions is not to walk to my car alone at night but that is not a theological response to things like this.