Chai’s Chat: Family Ministry and Young Adults 2014 May

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In the spirit of renewal, last month Rev. Naomi has highlighted some of the significant milestones that we have reached during the past three years. The future is already happening at our church, she asserted. And indeed, we are trying to “be church” in ways that we haven’t thought of before. Certainly, the new ways of “being” take time to get used to. It is almost like what happens when a new baby comes into the family. Schedules of the parents change, sleeping patterns change, and the whole family dynamics and priorities change. (Ask Lourdes and Bobby!) What is most needed during that phase is patience, and it is the same with the church. Kudos to all you who have been patient with the changes during the past few years.

Even as we are moving forward with a renewed vision of and for our church, I would like us to be encouraged through this article. As much as renewal is a process in which we re-envision our mission for ourselves and our church, it is a process in which we embody that vision in our community. I clearly see that happen in the most recent outreach activity that took place on Sunday, the 13th of April, 2014 – Palm Sunday. What started as a table-talk during the fellowship hour the previous Sunday has resulted in the distribution of Easter eggs and invitations to our neighbors. Passionate adults and super-enthusiastic children and youth went around our neighboring blocks with joyful hearts inviting people to attend the Holy Week services at our church. It was not only an act of extending a hand of friendship to our neighbors by inviting them, but, even at a more basic level, it was also an act of acknowledgement of our neighbors as fellow members in God’s world. The first and foremost task in the process of spreading God’s love is a sincere acknowledgement of the presence of the other person. It is a way of saying, we see you and we understand that we are interconnected. Also, it is an affirmation that there are no nonpersons in the family of God. That’s what we did. As a result, we have seen new friends at all the services during the Holy Week.
Through what we have done last week, we have declared that we want to be like the Good Samaritan in the parable that Jesus shared. It means that we want to recognize the needs in our neighborhood and we want to go out of our way to meet those needs. It also means that we want our church not to be like a fortress that keeps our neighbors out, but like the inn in the parable. We are open to host those who are robbed of their dignity and are left unattended, and we want to use our resources to heal those who are hurt. If we want our church to be like the inn, we are like the innkeeper as well. While the Good Samaritans among us reach out and recognize the needs in our community and lead those who need healing to us, some of us at the inn, collaborate with the Good Samaritans to do our best to bring healing. It is not that everyone who comes to us comes for healing, some come to serve, some come to give, some come to heal us, and some come to experience the presence of God in our community. Whatever may be the reason that people come to us, as a renewed community, we want everyone to experience God’s love and compassion in full – be it through our outreach activities, singing, worship, preaching, congregational care, Sunday school, Bible study, missions, fellowship, or even basketball.