06 March, 2017

For Such a Time as This

We are living in a difficult time in our world where historically stable nations are choosing leaders who are surround themselves with inexperienced and unstable advisors and administrators who appear to lack a genuine interest in the people they serve. This is a time in the life of our own country where we seem to have more interest in serving the two percent than the ninety-eight percent of our own population. When this happens, it's easy for us to forget our covenantal obligations that our own Christian gospel requires of us. As Paul has written,"...When one person suffers, we all suffer. When one person rejoices, we all rejoice..."1 Corinthians 12:26.

In such a time as this, it is all the more important for the church to be present and engaged in the world. We must be a voice in the wilderness, a balm healing, and we must take to heart the words of the prophets and the apostle to be present with the marginal, the rejected, the stranger, and the alien. This is sacred duty that is guided, not by profits or bottom lines, but by compassion, empathy, and acceptance of all. This is the vision of First Congregational Church. 

On Sunday, March 26th, we'll have another opportunity to live into our vision by sharing our gifts for One Great Hour of Sharing. When someone you care about suffers, all your truest words and most loving actions must declare: "I am here!"

The Bible tells us that God is like us in this respect. When one of God's beloved children suffer, God declares, 'I am here.' God hears the cries of the poor and oppressed. The scriptures remind us that we must live our lives in such a way that people know that 'God is here!' God is here in our actions, in our words, in our ministry, and in our worship. The promise, 'I am here!' is a constant refrain from Genesis to Revelation.

When we see the latest tragedy on the news, we might ask, 'where is God?' But we already know the answer before we ask the question - the answer - God is here, in the midst of those who are hurting. When Jesus tells the parable of the sheep and the goats in Matthew 25, God reveals to us a mystery. God is most tangibly present in this world where people hunger, thirst, lack adequate clothing and shelter, or is sick and/or imprisoned. Christ cares for the suffering. God is present when we feed the hungry, care for the sick, or welcome the stranger. When we care for the least of these, we care for Christ.  

We are living in a difficult time and we need to be present, anywhere in the world, including our own cities and neighborhoods. For those who are suffering, those who are hungry, those who are thirsty, or those who are imprisoned are not people over there or in another place, they are people right here in Chicago, in the suburbs or along the highways and byways of the state that is our home. 

We need to be the tangible gifts that declare the same message as God declares: 'I am here.' By reaching out in this way, we let God's people know that they have not been forgotten. Even when the need seems far from here, by acting together as the body of Christ, we are able to declare, 'I am here! God is here!' Through our special gifts to One Great Hour of Sharing we proclaim a countercultural message that while some may have forgotten you, we, as caring, loving, disciples of Jesus Christ have not. Let us be present with all God's people so that one day we can rejoice together!

Reaching out with joy and compassion!

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