Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Old with Vigor

The Atlanta Cohort met last night and, as is so often the case, was a notable evening of conversation. I must admit it is different being the "old guy" in the midst of a cohort of younger (twenty and thirty somethings) peers ; nonetheless, the dialogue and sharing of thoughts and hearts around a given topic within the context of remaining biblical is simply invigorating and fruitful.

I am encouraged by the thoughtful wrestling of sisters and brothers - of any age- who, in their endeavor to be authentic in the manner of Christ whilst transacting an integrated faith in everyday living, participate, communicate, struggle, risk and share to the good of themselves and benefit others. To these I must say, God bless.

Here was the topic: What should be our response as followers of Christ to the people and the question of the “sojourners in our midst”? As we live in a society seeking to address to the reality of undocumented aliens and continued immigration, how should we then live?

As we met, an understanding of the value of incremental practice that love and serve the sojourner as neighbors and part of our community took root. Heading off an "us and them" charity project mindset, we now must enter viable relationships if we are to advocate as friends and good neighbors.

I really think we are on the right track in this thinking. It is good to be challenged by practical needs and to frame our awareness of these needs in a context of hope. Likewise, it is also very good to distill a potentially overwhelming concern down to bite-sized and hope containing bits.

Admittedly, seeing needs remain unmet whilst living in a society that certainly could sort things out if we would reorient our values to include the well being of others and not only our own comfort, is frustrating. However, the tension is good if it sifts our hearts and is used by God to conform us to His image and will, and prompt us to local action.

I’m reminded of a few thoughts from Mother Teresa. Her words resonate here.
“We can do no great things; only small things with great love.”

“I never look at the masses as my responsibility; I look at the individual. I can only love one person at a time - just one, one, one. So you begin. I began - I picked up one person. Maybe if I didn't pick up that one person, I wouldn't have picked up forty-two thousand.... The same thing goes for you, the same thing in your family, the same thing in your church, your community. Just begin - one, one, one.”
To cite an earlier post, she once said that she was "a little pencil in the hand of a writing God who is sending a love letter to the world”. May I too be happy to be a little nub of graphite willing to move on the page in a way that is fruitful in the lives of my friends, enemies, and others and of use in the kingdom of God.

To quote a country song I heard a while back, it’s time for “ a little less talk and a lot more action”. Mother Teresa would have agreed – you think? So, in our collective efforts to serve, here is a parting thought from a departed sister. "If you can't feed a hundred people, then just feed one." Good counsel, don't you agree?

So, let's get started. And, as we go, let us ask- in keeping with a comment by Dallas Willard- are we becoming a people who live as the cooperative friends of Jesus? And, are we seeking to live lives of constant creative goodness by the power of the Holy Spirit for the sake of the world - sojurners and all? (Italics mine)


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