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Jul/Aug 2014

March cover image: Wendy Ilott, Holy Spirit's clean energy advocate.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rev Susan Johnson, National Bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada writes a regular column for each issue of Canada Lutheran.

ELCIC congregations are welcome to republish this material in their church publications. Please acknowledge its original publication by including the credit line:

Canada Lutheran, Month, Year, Volume# and Issue#


NATIONAL BISHOP'S TURN


Worship, Study, Serve

We are called to reach out to those in need.

One of my favourite passages of scripture is Micah 6:8—He has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God? I love this passage because it so simply and clearly states what it means for us to live a life of discipleship. Doing justice and loving-kindness are different ways of expressing the call to serve.

Throughout his ministry, Jesus defines his role in terms of service to others. Let’s look at some examples. In Luke’s gospel, right after his baptism and his temptation in the wilderness, Jesus heads back to Nazareth, and in the synagogue reads and pro-
claims The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour. …Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing. (Luke 4:18–21)

After telling the parable of the good Samaritan, Jesus asks which character has acted like a neighbour and was answered, the one who showed mercy. Jesus’ command was Go and do likewise. (Luke 10:37)

In the parable of the last judgement, the righteous ask, “…and when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?” And the king will answer them, “Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.” (Matthew 25:37–40)

Following Jesus means we are called to reach out to those around us who are in need. Unfortunately, it has become all too common for us to think we can hand off this responsibility to someone else. We expect our pastors and diaconal ministers to reach out to those in need. We may even provide a pastor’s discretionary fund, or part of a job description to allow this to happen. We may rent out our buildings to those who are doing good work. But I wonder how many of us are actually involved in hands-on ministry to those in need.

I know I am overstating the case and that there are many congregations and many individuals in our church who are doing amazing ministry in service to those in need. Congregations running community gardens, food banks, community kitchens, out of the cold programs—the list is long and growing! Individuals involved in Habitat for Humanity, or delivering Meals on Wheels, or volunteering at the local hospital or AIDS hospice. How wonderful!

Many of us need to hear again, in our hearts as well as our ears, Jesus’ call to follow him into service with those who are in need. Jesus didn’t shy away from those who were sick, or poor, or in need of any kind. He reached out with hands of compassion to love and serve his many neighbours.

How is Jesus calling you to serve? What do you need to assist you in reaching out to those around you? God bless you as you continue to deepen your discipleship!

Canada Lutheran, Jul/Aug 2014

Rev. Susan C. Johnson, National Bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada writes a regular column for each issue of Canada Lutheran.

How is Jesus calling you to tell? Who is God calling you to share your faith with? What do you need to assist you in growing in your ability to share your faith? Share
your “tell” ideas on the ELCIC Facebook page at www.facebook.com/Canadian-Lutherans. God bless you as you continue to deepen your discipleship!