Thursday, February 3, 2011

February Newsletter Article: Kingdom-building Opportunities Abound

"Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? ... indeed your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well." (Mt 6:25, 32-33)

This is one of those promises that I mentioned at our Annual Meeting is REALLY true. This isn’t just a lovely concept. It is for us a reality. It has also been our path together this last year and a half. Looking beyond what we need or want for ourselves (our building, our programs), we have been focused on building the kingdom of God here where we have been planted, and we have seen the result: abundant blessings, abundant provision, and abundant opportunities to keep building.

The new opportunities for us are many and we need everyone’s input and involvement both in discerning where to go and when, and in accomplishing the kingdom-building work. For example, we have been in conversation with the Boys and Girls Club almost since I arrived about how to work together on a playground both of our populations of children can enjoy. With our current focus on our grounds and the plans being made by our Garden Committee, now is the time to finish thinking this through.

We are also dreaming of a garden that will support our Shepherd’s Table and provide opportunity for us to teach our friends how to grow, harvest, prepare, and preserve their own food. You know the saying, “Give a man a fish; you have fed him for today. Teach a man to fish; and you have fed him for a lifetime.”(Author unknown) This also answers the call from the prophet Micah we heard Deacon Pam preach on last Sunday to “DO justice.” Another dream emerging from our feeding ministry, given the increasing amounts of trash we are generating, is beefing up our recycling efforts: designating and marking bins for plastic, glass, cardboard/paper, and food scraps, which brings up another opportunity for us to consider - composting.

I also mentioned at our Annual Meeting that we would be focusing on Hospitality this year in all of its many forms: signs to direct people to the offices, worship spaces, parish halls, meeting rooms, nursery, and rest rooms; gatherings that celebrate newcomers and members who have been on the fringes, welcoming them and their gifts into our community and kingdom-building work in the name of Christ; “warming up” some of our meeting rooms to make our spaces feel homey and welcoming.

But there’s more… One of the easiest and most important acts of hospitality we can do immediately is the ministry of our nametags!!! Most of us have nametags, but very few of us wear them. I’ll be announcing this every Sunday from now on, until we establish a new habit of wearing our nametags so that newcomers can learn our names (some of us need more time than others remembering names) and we can learn theirs. Another simple, yet important act of hospitality is the pictorial directory we are about ready to launch – thanks to Olga Poliakova, Sue Rogalski, and Jean Jolly. To save money and speed up distribution, these will be distributed electronically to the membership. A few copies will be made and kept on hand to give to newcomers, supply priests, and those not engaged with technology. 

We are the bearers of the light of Christ into our world. Everything we possess is a gift from God meant to be used to build God’s kingdom on earth. And kingdom-building work can be fun because 1) we do it together, and 2) we get to watch in amazement as the abundance of God’s grace and provision cover and bless us and those we serve as we DO justice in the name of our Savior.

I close with another promise that is REALLY true. Jesus said, “the measure you give will be the measure you get, and still more will be given you.” (MT 24). The river of life is flowing at Redeemer, and it’s exciting and a little bit scary! But we don’t have to worry. We just need to get busy. There’s kingdom-building work to be done!

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