After worship on Sunday when I preached this sermon from James 2:1-13 one of our members helped me take the sermon to a deeper place. He said to me, "You know when I looked at the text this morning I was a little anxious because I thought it was going to be all about going out and doing social justice, which is fine, but I just needed something else. So I was really glad that you talked more about us knowing that we are loved because I needed that. But I wonder if you had taken that just a bit further from knowing we are loved cognitively to knowing in our hearts that we are loved because I think it's different." And he was so right. I wished I would have done that and in fact his comment inspired what you'll hear in this week's teaching. He also commented on another part of the Nadia Bolz-Weber interview that I referenced (you can listen here) when she shared that her congregation is not really a social justice church. They are a church full of people who do social justice all around their community and church is the place where they just want to come and be reminded that they are loved.
That part of the interview really impacted me as well. We are in fact a social justice church. Our Free Store has served over 2,000 families (which makes about 15,000 people), our Kalamazoo Loaves and Fishes Pantry is one of the most utilized in the county, and we are engaged actively through my presidency in the work of ISAAC (Interfaith Strategy for Advocacy and Action in the Community). Additionally we host a well run Bonus Bucks Pantry and our Garden is producing more fresh produce for the community than I had ever imagined. We are a busy place! Nevertheless I have that sneaking suspicion that as these ministries become more and more well run we are going to find ourselves engaging and embracing the practices that will lead to Spiritual Growth and the deepening our our relationship with God. We are finding ourselves in a season of knowing - REALLY KNOWING - that we are loved. We have loved our neighborhood with all our might for a few years now and will continue to do so but perhaps it's also time to open ourselves a bit wider to the truth and good news that we too are loved.
I don't know. Only time and the Holy Spirit can tell but that's what one powerful question / thought about my sermon after worship on Sunday sparked with me. What do you think?