Monday, August 1, 2011

The Least of These

The last few weeks, my church has been teaching a series on "The Least of These".  It comes from the verse where Jesus tells his disciples that whatever they have done for "the least of these" (widows, poor, hungry, etc.) they have done for him.

This Sunday, we had a special service to really call attention to the needs of the least of these in our home city.  But it wasn't a special service like we had a guest speaker, or special praise and worship, or a whole lot of testimonies.  We didn't take up a special offering to give to local charity groups.

We did all dress up, but not like you would for Easter Sunday.  Our church/movie theater was packed with prison jumpsuit-orange t-shirts, shorts, and jeans.

Because, once first service was over, we unleashed our congregation on Raleigh.  And we served.

When I say "serve", I don't mean that we put on a drama program for another area church, or sang at a nursing home (though those are all wonderful things to do).  I mean we went out in the community and worked, everything we were doing going to help those who couldn't help themselves.

Some went and renovated a warehouse for a place that teaches life skills to at-risk adults and single parents in need.  Some went out in the community and fed and fellowshipped with the homeless.  My Life Group went to a farm and harvested vegetables for the Food Shuttle.  My husband, who could farm with the best of them but whose carpentry skills were in greater demand in another area, spent an afternoon working on stables and corrals for a program that matches abused, at-risk teen girls with horses in need of rehabilitation.  He came home and talked about the program for hours, about what a great idea it is and how he wants to do more to help.

I was one of the few in my church who didn't go out into the community.  Not that I'm adverse to hard work or serving, but someone had to watch kids so their parents could go out and do these amazing things.  I get so much joy out of hanging out with my church preschoolers, I jumped at the opportunity to watch them for an afternoon.

The whole thing was amazing, and what I am so, SO excited about is that it is ongoing.  You see, we aren't just going out this one time to do some volunteer work and make ourselves feel good.  Everyone in our church has the opportunity to choose an area where they want to get involved and can volunteer to help once a month (or more often, if they want).

Later on, my mom was asking me how it had gone, and if any of the outdoor projects had gotten cancelled.  (Where we are nearly got up to 100 degrees, despite the fact that it was also thunderstorming.)  No one had mentioned or even considered the possibility of cancelling.  The weather didn't eliminate the need, so it wouldn't stop the service either.

I am so, so, overwhelmingly proud of my church family today.  My pastor, during our one combined service yesterday, spoke of how the world perceives Christians as judgmental, selfish, etc.

Yesterday was our first step in reclaiming the word "Christian" for its true meaning.

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