Is it possible for the church to be a center of hope and healing in your community? If so, what needs to happen to make it so?
Consider the people in your community this week of Thanksgiving and beyond. When we pause to reflect on how the church can be the center of hope and healing, we consider engagement with people in our communities all year.
Penny Lernoux described engagement in the community and the world this way, “You can look at a slum or peasant village, but it is only by entering into the world, by living in it, that you begin to understand what it is like to be powerless, to be like Christ.”
What is Engagement?
- It is living grace and truth in the communities in which we live.
- Engagement is reaching out and receiving people, offering Christ by living and loving as God in Christ has loved us, growing in a Christian community, and living out our faith in the communities in which we live.
- Engagement is the weaving together of Wesley’s “personal piety and social holiness” in the development of relationships with the community. Wesley modeled care and compassion for the hungry and hurting. He knew at the center of life-transformation were relationships with people in a variety of life circumstances.
What would happen if your congregation began to “enter the community” to develop relationships with local schools, with people living in poverty, with health care facilities? What would happen if you began to pray with people from your congregation, “What do we need to do that no one else is doing?”
We believe you would take a giant step toward, not only offering hope but, by becoming hope.
Extend the Table Throughout the Year
As we celebrate the ways we bless people from Thanksgiving to Christmas, we also pause. What we do at the end of the year offers hope to our communities. We celebrate the connections we make with people, the ways needs are met during the winter, and the joy that comes from being a blessing to others.
We also know hope is needed the entire year.
Perhaps what you do this week and in the weeks to come to engage with people in your community will be the spark for a quarterly, monthly, or occasional experience with your community. Said more directly, our hope is the relationships you nurture in the coming weeks will be seeds of hope for your engagement in the community in 2019.
Whatever this week and the weeks ahead bring for you and the church, may you consider how God is inviting you to be an agent of hope.
Hope for A Blessed Thanksgiving
Tomorrow we will celebrate with family and friends. We will serve meals in our communities and perhaps enjoy a football game on television. There will be laughter and conversation, new connections and reunions. While we gather, we ask you to consider how we can intentionally extend the table throughout the year.
“I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy.”
It is our hope that as you continue leading people to follow Jesus by engaging in the community, there will be one who will say to you, “I thank my God every time I remember you…”
We give God thanks for you and your leadership. We are grateful for how God has shaped and enriched our lives through you. May each of you be as blessed as you have been a blessing.
O God, by your grace, shape us into your loving presence in the world. Thank you for the opportunity to be partners with you in your work of transformation in Jesus’s name. Amen
-Tim Bias and Sara Thomas