Monday, January 14, 2019
This past Sunday marked the last official day of my field studies experience with the Loop Church of the Nazarene and Compassionate Ministries. Like every Sunday, we gathered in the Lillie’s home to reflect upon the passages from the Revised Common Lectionary. This time: Psalm 29, Isaiah 43:1–7, Acts 8:14–17, and Luke 3:15–17; 21–22. Following the church calendar and the passage from Luke, this Sunday also marked our celebration of the baptism of Jesus.
Through these readings, we were reminded that God has extended an invitation for each of us to participate in God’s grace to the world. And God calls all of us by name, and not only by the name our parent’s give us, but as Reuben pointed out, through the covenant that we now all have access to in Christ, everyone is called by God’s name (Isaiah 43:1; 7).
And as Reuben emphasized, we shouldn’t lightly pass over the significance of this invitation being open to everyone, particularly in light of passages such as Acts 8:14–17 in which Peter and John pray for specifically for Samaritans to receive the Holy Spirit.
Peter and John, two Jewish men, prayed … for Samaritans.
And not only did they pray for the Samaritans, but they laid hands on them.
Given the intense animosity that existed between the Jews and the Samaritans, this event not only speaks volumes about the ways in which God is calling everyone, but it also gives testimony to how by God’s grace, we might participate in the revelation of this grace to everyone—really, everyone.
Which is to say, as we have our own individuals and groups of people we likely treat as the Jews did Samaritans, we must not forget that God is also calling them.
And one of the primary ways in which we participate in God’s grace is in the sacrament of baptism.
And as Luke 3:22 records about Jesus’s baptism that God called down from heaven, “You are my Son, whom I dearly love; in you I find happiness” (CEB), we might also consider that this is also how God sees each of us in our own baptism in Jesus’ name.
Tt seems rather fitting, then, that our prayer walk in Jones Park placed us in a quite upwardly mobile area of the neighborhood.
Not to say that these particular neighbors are necessarily the equivalent of Samaritans to me—I am very much a part of the middle class—but in the midst their relative affluence and in contrast to our neighbors in greatest need, they might be easy to overlook in the charitable work of the church.
And yet, God calls each of the them in Jesus’s name too.
Now as I’m trying to finish this last post reflecting on my time with LoopNaz, I’m struggling to find a good segue into an overarching conclusion, so instead I’ll just make it obvious that that’s what I’m about to do.
I will say that it has genuinely been a pleasure to contribute to the work LoopNaz is doing and to be able to serve our neighbors in greatest need. It is a ministry whose leadership and mission are centered on the heart of God.
That being said, I am also very thankful that Reuben was willing to open up this opportunity for my cross-cultural field studies experience. And I am very thankful for his mentorship during this time.
This experience has given me a new lens through which I now see the neighborhood of the Loop and all the people in it. And I am grateful.
While this particular experience comes to a close, I look forward to future opportunities to stay in conversation with Reuben and LoopNaz.
And I look forward to seeing how God continues to work through LoopNaz to serve our neighbors in greatest need.