Something really important happened last week in the life of the church: we formulated a mission statement for our congregation. It’s one sentence of what we believe God wants us to be and do. Here it is:
The mission of Hickory Rock is to show our love for God through worship, prayer, service, and fellowship, as we proclaim God’s love for all people, encouraging them to grow in the hope, peace, and joy of Jesus Christ.
That covers a lot of good stuff. But how do we put it into practice? Last night during Wednesday Bible Study, we read this article about a mission church in downtown Raleigh.
The pastor of the church talked about the “Polar Vortex” of cold we experienced last week, and said that most people really want/love for it to get cold so it can snow beautifully. But, he says,…
I haven’t been able to pray for snow. Or cold weather. In fact, I have a hard time being excited when it rains. Because for the people we minister among at Love Wins–a ministry of presence and pastoral care for the homeless and at-risk population of Raleigh, NC–weather is a matter of, quite frankly, life and death. For the most part, everyone is accounted for this week, but the memory of past winters, where bodies were not discovered until days after the thaw, is never far from us. So we tend these days to reserve our prayers for folks we have not seen yet, for the people who have to endure the shivers that come with darkness, who are themselves praying to wake up in the morning. When you recognize someone as your neighbor, their problems become your problems. And when that happens, things begin to change.
We also read the following Bible verses and talked about how they pertained to issues from the article:
Matthew 22:39-40 – Love your neighbor as yourself.
Matthew 25:34-40 – The righteous will answer, “Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?” The King will reply, “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.”
Romans 15:7 – Welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.
Hebrews 13:2 – Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.
The pastor who wrote the article grew up in rural Mississippi, maybe in a community or a church like ours. I don’t know his story, but I bet part of what motivated him to minister to the homeless population of Raleigh were the Bible verses we read. And those verses are in our Bibles too. So how can they motivate us?
And as we are motivated by the Bible, how can our mission statement guide us? Scroll back up and read it again. There’s lots of good stuff in it. But because there’s a lot, it means we have a lot to do. If we want to help people experience the hope, peace, and joy of Jesus, then we first have to figure out what that means for each person. “What does this person need to have peace?” “What does that person need in order to feel joy?” “What would give this family hope?”
Maybe before we even do that, we need to recognize that every person in our community is our neighbor. And “when you recognize someone as your neighbor, their problems become your problems. And when that happens, things begin to change.”
So let’s be creative, and let’s get motivated, and let’s do great things for God here in our community!