We are the Ones

Recently, I attended a workshop at Elon University on civic engagement lead by author Peter Levine. Interestingly, I was the only clergy person present; to be fair there were only a few people beyond the Elon community present but it struck me as something church leaders would have found helpful as in many ways civic engagement at the core of the church’s mission.  This truth was reflected in our table discussion where several students shared their first experiences with community engagement came in their church and this experience led them to believe that their education must include service and engagement in the community.  The sad reality however, is these students are exceptions as increasingly folks are become disengaged.  Not always because they are apathetic because they feel overwhelmed and do not feel their efforts will make a difference.  And while the church continues to take positive steps to offer care to those in need, it often sees the larger problems as either not their concern or beyond their control.  As I reflected on the calling of the church I felt fairly certain that Jesus was all about been engaged in the community.  Offer loaves and fishes but also calling out leaders turning over tables and challenging systems as he sought to reform not only the church but the social systems of his day.  Jesus always did this with a willingness to listen, to challenge, to partner with both the rich and the poor to enable folks to see and respond.  This week we have witnessed our government’s inability solve even the problem of short term funding and I needed to have this glimmer of possibility that change was possible that the workshop on Wednesday offered.  Yet it made me wonder where is the voice of the church does the world only see us as concerned with saving souls for heave and not saving lives in our world. And I was reminded of song we sometimes sing, “Who will speak if we don’t” It reminds of the title of Dr. Levine’s book “We are the ones we are waiting for”.   So this week I was reminded not of secular social action but of my spiritual heritage.  Yes, advocating for change is the calling of a good citizen but also the calling of Christ for the church.  Is it possible that indeed God is saying to us that “we are the ones we (and the world) are waiting for.”

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