I'm still in Phoenix summer mode here on weekends, spending time around the house.
Particularly, this weekend involves watching large chunks of the Olympics, standard household chores, and one other activity that I look forward to.
Since this past Sunday, our church has been in a period of discernment and working on ways to get out and more involved in the community. What are the needs of the community, what is God calling us as a community to participate with him in, and how best to faithfully participate in that work. This weekend is some time that I have been able to set aside to spend thinking and listening, allowing God to speak towards how we can be there for the least of these. There are many needs, many issues, and many valid ways to build relationships, and yet which ones is God calling our community towards.
We have neighbors that need to be known.
We have neighbors that need to be loved.
We have neighbors that have needs that we might be able to meet.
Some of these might be physical, some emotional, and other spiritual.
Because God is at work, and this process is not simply about a missions ministry or program, but in joining God in His work.
It causes us to think differently when we know that no matter what way we get involved, we are opening ourselves up to the community as much as we are trying to get to know them.
Entering other people's lives and communities means opening up our own to them. It is not about the serving and the served, but in getting that all people are commonly in need and able to meet needs. Such is participation in God's work in the world.
It convicts me, because I know I often hesitate to commit to long-term responsibilities without fully thinking them through.
Thinking them through, meditating, praying, and listening is my focus of my weekend wanderings this weekend. When I take the dog on a long walk, it will be to listen to how God is moving, God-willing I have ears to hear.
When we meet together for church on Sunday at 23rd and Dunlap, it will be as a people with open minds, hearts, eyes, and ears for the needs we have in our midst, as well as those we find ourselves in the midst of (in the community).
Programs come and go, needs fluctuate over time and space, but there is always participation in God's work.
The energy of everyone is so amazing. When the way forward was opened up, I sensed the energy level explode as if a bomb had just gone off. It was very exciting, and encouraging that people do understand that giving and serving are a necessary part of life.
What I see happening now in this time of discernment is that this energy is getting focused, sharpened, and oriented in ways that will keep it from dissipating quickly and instead actively empower and sustain us for long-term faithfully in this participation.
So as the weekend begins, I pray for wisdom and discernment. I pray that we learn how to enter our community in ways that bring us alongside others: meeting needs, liberating oppressions (financial, relational, physical, or spiritual), and building friendships & relationships along the journey of life. The Kingdom of God is at hand - may I learn to see it all around me, overwhelm me, and transform me into participation.