This article will be somewhat different in the report December’s partnership with Jacob’s Well. It will be a bit of a devotion first, followed by images from Part One of our service in the community.
At a recent chapel, I was struck by the lines of the Christmas hymn, “O Come All Ye Faithful / Joyful and triumphant…” And actually, I was tempted to use those words as the title of the article, inviting us to come and serve our neighbors faithfully and joyfully. I was thinking it could really elevate the prominence of the Community Outreach Team. But, then I realized that really isn’t what the song is about; it’s a meditation on God’s marvelous incarnation with an angelic host bearing witness. And, those who went faithfully and joyfully were there to celebrate God’s first coming, not really looking to serve in the community.
But it did get me thinking. Indulge me in some reflection during this Advent season, and feel free to reference Matthew 25:31-46 ahead of time for hints as to where this is going.
If we ever were to adore Him and behold Him, and if we ever were to encounter this king who is now in flesh appearing, what would we do? Actually, there really is nothing we can do to initiate that. It is not about us going to be with God. Just the opposite, the point of this hymn is to remind us that God has come to be with us ("Immanuel" in the Hebrew). Apart from God’s revelation in his Son, we would never know our God or anything about his first coming.
Speaking of God’s revelation, though, Christ himself tells us a little about how it will be like in his second coming. Consider the Message translation of Christ’s words in Matthew 25:40 “Whenever you did one of these things to someone overlooked or ignored – that was me—you actually did it to me.”
How amazing to think: God can be found here on earth when we lose ourselves in acts of service for others. Isn’t that just like God? He has never required us to look “up” and go find him, but rather look around, right among us. He was found in the lowly manger. Anyone could have come to behold, adore and worship him in his first coming. Similarly, anyone can find time to serve those in need as we look forward in hope for his second coming. And, in the meantime, who knows, maybe we’ll find that service brings peace to our little corner of the world? And, maybe this connects nicely with Luke 2:14 from that first night when angels bore witness to God’s first coming, announcing, “Glory to God and peace on earth.”
With that in mind, here is the latest report of the Community Outreach Team in our little corner of the world and its partnership with Jacob’s Well. We will have two more outings this month (details below), so stay tuned. Here are photos and some reflections for those involved in “Jacob’s Well: Part One”
Community Leader Mark Thornton
“The importance of partnerships between local ministries and different churches or schools is important because it provides volunteers, dedicated prayer partners, encouragement, and financial support,” said Mark Thornton, executive director of Jacob’s Well. “And, many people simply don't realize there are people in need in their community for a variety of reasons. Serving with local ministries puts faces and names and friendships next to Matthew 25:34-40 and gives the group a way to out those words into action.”
Thornton went on to recognize the universal call to the body of believers. “The real importance of these partnerships is the way it promotes a ‘kingdom work’ mindset. We may have our different areas of town or individual churches that we worship at, but at the end of the day we are serving the same God and are working together to build His kingdom. And that is awesome.”
Parent Amy Blum
“It is hard to put into words the value of participating in events like the Jacob's Well food distribution,’ said Amy Blum, Lincoln Lutheran parent. “The main thing for me is that it made us take a step back from our busy lives and focus on helping others. We become closer as a family by realizing how fortunate and blessed we are and that just a little bit of time and effort on our part can make a huge difference in someone else's life.”
Student Nathan Gebers
Senior Nathan Gebers found joy in the highly repetitive task of organizing vegetables for the distribution table. “Even though putting 8-12 bell peppers into a bag only helps people carry things, knowing that it helps people in some way makes it fun.”