Walking Alongside Others

Photo credit here. 

S (Scripture): Jeremiah 2

11 Has a nation switched gods,
though they aren’t really gods at all?
Yet my people have exchanged their glory
for what has no value.
12 Be stunned at such a thing, you heavens;
shudder and quake, declares the Lord.
13 My people have committed two crimes:
They have forsaken me, the spring of living water.
And they have dug wells, broken wells that can’t hold water.

O (Observation):  God declares to Jeremiah that God’s people have turned away from God.   They look elsewhere for their hope and salvation (dug wells), even though God saved them from slavery in Egypt.  Unfortunately for the people, these “wells they have dug” appear to be broken alternatives of hope to replace God.   

God declares that this action is worthy of making folks shake in their boots!  Scary enough that the heavens should shudder and quake!

A (Application):  How many alternative routes have we come up with for comfort, hope and salvation?   And how many are simply broken wells?  

The American Dream of building a family, a business, an independent life is one such well (or set of wells).    Yet for so many, these dreams are false dreams, a lie many people strive towards.   Or maybe out of ignorance or a lack of imagination, folks pursue this dream.  And in the wake of the pursuit of this dream lies destruction, pain, anger.   Sometimes the dream is just a well we have dug for ourselves…a broken well that holds nothing.  

So much of the American Dream has turned into a sloven pursuit for self-indulgence and comfort.   I’ve got mine.  Sorry.  You need to get your own.  

I’m not advocating that we don’t take responsibility for our own lives.  I simply would like compassion and humility to be factored into our pursuits.    Maybe invite other along the way with us.   Befriending folks, instead of dismissing them!   This is the way of Jesus.  Living a life not just for the self, but also for the other.   

Living life in a state of thankfulness for what God has given to us is a great start.   Then, let us realize that our way forward is to help others along the way.   This is a great next step. 

P (Prayer):  God, you sustain us with your grace.  Continue the work of grace in us.  Amen. 


Holding Things in Common

img_4117S (Scripture): Acts 4:32 The group of those who believed were of one heart and mind, and no one said that any of his possessions was his own, but everything was held in common. 33 With great power the apostles were giving testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was on them all. 34 For there was no one needy among them, because those who were owners of land or houses were selling them and bringing the proceeds from the sales 35 and placing them at the apostles’ feet. The proceeds were distributed to each, as anyone had need. 36 So Joseph, a Levite who was a native of Cyprus, called by the apostles Barnabas (which is translated “son of encouragement”), 37 sold a field that belonged to him and brought the money and placed it at the apostles’ feet.

O (Observation): So the first Christians held things in common. This is done for the common good. No one wanted or was in need.  Is this an idealized version of the first Christian community? Maybe.  But it’s a good example.

Nothing was individually owned. Everything was for the good of the community. Those who had much, gave much; those who had little used what they needed.

A (Application): Thankfully, I see this generosity in many of the members of the church I serve.   I see great generosity amongst those who have, and I see much appreciation for those who don’t have.   We are a long way from perfect, but according to the track record of giving, I’d say we are well on our way to seeing that all we have is God’s, and therefore all we have is to be used for God’s glory, and not our own.

We have recently invested in our physical building (with successful campaigns to pay for a small building repair loan), mission support (to the ELCA and to the Southeastern Synod of the ELCA), as well as in our community.

Recently, we held an angel tree program.  We had an abundance of gifts given to give away at a Christmas party at Patterson Park Community Center, for their after-school program.  The picture above is from that party.   Thrivent Financial also gave to support this project.   It was a great partnership between Advent Lutheran Church, Patterson Park Community Center, and Thrivent.

Holding things in common.   Seems like a win-win.   Thanks be to God!

P (Prayer): Lord, when we give, we receive.  Thank you for helping us to establish this partnership with our local community center.  Help us to walk with others and to learn from one another.  Amen.