Stuck and Needing Help
When I was a little boy, no more that 5 or 6 years old, my aunt took me on a trip to Busch Gardens, Williamsburg. We left the theme park early in the evening, as summer showers were coming, but as we waited in the long afternoon I-64 traffic, the rain began to down pour. As unpleasant as heavy traffic in the rain can be, it only got worse, my aunt's car broke down. We got to side of the road, and my aunt put out some flares and she had to make a decision as to what to do. She did not have a cell phone then, so we had to decide which direction we were going to walk through the rain in order to find a phone and call for help. Not knowing any better as a small child, I put out my hitchhikers thumb. And a man stopped in old red pickup truck. There were just enough seats for my aunt and I and the driver, and the man dropped us off at the next exit at a Burger King. My aunt thanked him and offered him some money, but he refused it. He just got into his truck and rode away. We called my grandmother and she came to pick us up and took us home.
A Familiar Story
The Story of the of the Good Samaritan is one of the most important stories that Jesus tells in the Gospel of Luke. It is a story that really expresses how we live out our love of God and neighbor and really definite makes clear that there is no one who we should not love. Just in case you haven't heard this great story, here it is:
"A legal expert stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he said, “what must I do to gain eternal life?”
The Good Samaritan is a story of surprise to many of the first hearers of this story, because Samaritans and Jews were enemies; engaged in a religious blood feud that went back hundreds of years. Yet, Jesus is clear that we are to go and do likewise, we are supposed to express our love of neighbor to all people, particularly those whom are in the local communities.
Local Church, Global Mission
When I was a student at Candler School of Theology at Emory University, one of the best course I took was a course called, "Local Church, Global Mission." In this course, we discussed what is mission and how could we discern what should our missional/service based ministries should be emphasized in a particular locations. So missions (note the lower case 'm') can be a very contextual thing, designed for the specifics of local needs; however, the Mission (notice the capital 'M') remains the same because it has always been about more people coming into and developing a deep relationship with Jesus Christ. The Mission has never changed and it won't. missions on the other hand change for a variety of reasons. missions is one of the ways we are living out the Mission, we grow deeper in our relationships with Jesus Christ by serving others in our community and around the world. There is always someone in need, someone who is stuck on the side of the metaphorical road, and we should be there ready to respond. The obvious command of Jesus is clear, "Go and do likewise." We should be the good samaritans where we are.
How can we be the best neighbors locally
Get Involved in the missions at CUMC there are many different ways that you can be involved in missions here with Community. Recently you may have heard me mention that every United Methodist Women circle does a particular mission/ministry; however, this is not the only source of service-based engagement. You could join us in housing the homeless during the Winter Shelter, go on a mission trip with the Appalachia Service Project, you could help the Youth Group pack meals for the students of College Park Elementary School to make sure they eat over weekends. You can let us know how you would like to connect in mission at Community here: http://www.cumcvb.org/get-connected.html.
There is another way that Community can be involved in missions and that is by severing the needs of others in our local community through Volunteer Hampton Roads. Volunteer Hampton Road is an organization where groups or individuals can volunteer in service based elements locally. This is not a religious organization nor is it always events that are service or missioned based. Volunteering locally is one of the best ways for us to engage younger people, and Volunteer Hampton Roads can be a route toward this at CUMC. You can find more information about Volunteer Hampton Roads here: https://www.volunteerhr.org.
Being the best neighbors we can be locally and globally is a transitional topic for us, because we will be discussing service and mission more in the next few weeks as this is a critical element to the life of every congregation. It is how we follow Jesus and the fruit of our transformational experience with Jesus in our lives. Ultimately being the best neighbors we can both locally and globally through serving others will help us to grow younger and will help the Mission of more people know the transformative power of Jesus Christ.
Grace and Peace be with you,