In my sermon this past Sunday I sort of re-issued a vision that I believe God has for our church right now. Namely, to go beyond the walls of our church and find ways to serve our neighborhood and city with the love of Jesus. To put it another way, I firmly believe that God is pushing us as a church to find ways to “love our neighbor” here in Northfield.
In a sense, this is a rather vague idea, right? “Loving your neighbor” could mean just about anything. And if this is the case, then how can this “vision” guide our church in any tangible way? Does “loving our neighbor” mean we should offer another free meal? Does it mean that we should volunteer at Greenvale Elementary? Or should we help with affordable housing efforts? Or give more money to the CAC? Fair questions.
But at least for me, these questions do not nullify this vision or confuse it in any way. They only confirm it! Dr. Seuss put it this way, “Sometimes the questions are complicated and the answers are simple.” Exactly!
As a church we will have to wrestling with what the exact expressions of this vision look like. This is true. But we DO know that it means loving our neighbor. In this sense it IS simple.
I offered a few ideas of what this might mean for us on Sunday. God is calling us to love our neighbor, and this might very well mean:
- Building a stronger partnership with the Northfield Women’s Center.
- Finding ways to serve Carleton College and St. Olaf College.
- Discovering how to strengthen our relationship with Greenvale school.
- Opening our eyes to issues important to immigrants in our neighborhood.
- Becoming more aware of refugees in our community and learning how to love them as Jesus would.
As a part of this amazing and wonderful challenge, I told a story on Sunday about a third-grade boy who made his classmate a gift. His classmate is a girl who made her way to Northfield from Veracruz, Mexico. She misses home. And this boy made her a drawing of the Veracruz flag. What an awesome act of love!
Before telling this story on Sunday, Kelly and I made sure to get permission from both students and their guardians. And yesterday I was able to visit with both of these inspiring students once again. The boy asked me, “So, did you tell our story to your church?”
“Yes, I did.” I told him. “And guess what?”
“What?” He inquired.
“You both taught us an important lesson on what it means to love people.” I said.
“Glad we could help!” He said.
Emmaus! I am so thankful for all the ways that so many of you are already living this vision. And God will continue to guide us into this more and more. I’m so very excited for what God is going to do in and through us. Buckle up!