I am presently reading Michael Plekon’s book Community as Church, Church as Community and was reminded of the importance of moving from charity to advocacy in our outreach, while offering radical hospitality to all whom we encounter. If we, as Jesus’ followers, are to live out the mission he clearly and expectantly lays out for us through the characteristics of his ministry, we too must be focused on bringing good news to the poor, release for the captive, recovery of sight for the blind, freeing the oppressed from what binds them, and in the most basic sense, meet our neighbors wherever they are in their lives. Plekon illustrates the activity and characteristics of

such activity with these words:

 

“Vital parishes and communities of faith showed hospitality not only to those visiting on Sunday who could be prospective members. They considered themselves to be part of the surrounding neighborhood and its people, part of the world they were to love and serve. Such parishes were places of healing, discernment, and diversity. They were supporters of justice in their larger areas, aware that their efforts in helping to feed, clothe, shelter, and protect those in need was the most powerful witness to Christ they could offer. Their sacred space and their worship were beautiful, able to sustain the transformation that is the life of the people of God. Parishes were doorways into the kingdom” (Community as Church, Church as Community, pg. 6 Cascade Books, 2021).

 

Granted, this description presents us with a lot to live into. These qualities are not easy to achieve, and there is not a guide that lays out easy steps. Yet, what we do know is the why that motions us to prioritize doing so as our focus. We are an Easter people, who know the gift of Jesus’ death that unburdens us from our brokenness and gifts us with the promise of new life that is to be shared as a witness to Jesus’ life- changing activity, which we have been called upon, in our baptisms, to perpetuate by way of our communitywide activity and the hospitality we show our neighbors. Someone far wiser than me rightly declared that the mission field is right outside our backdoors. As a congregation, let us prayerfully consider the mission field that makes up our neighborhood and how we might be a source of hospitality and good news for our neighbors. Trini Mini has provided us with a good start and an open door, how might we walk further through, assessing the needs of our neighbors and being a living sign of God’s love as we meet them wherever they are in their lives—in their struggles as well as in their joys.

God's peace,

Pastor Mark

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