I remember what Dr. Fred Craddock, gifted preaching professor, said in class one day when he was talking about the opportunity and responsibility of giving voice to the Gospel. He said that which may seem most specific and most personal in one’s own life is often most universal. In essence, that which we hold as personal to us and often guard may actually touch at the core of all people. This is not to make the preaching moment about us, but rather to make the preaching moment real.
This summer as I have given thought again to why I believe the local church is the hope of the world – God’s best plan to shape a world restored and redeemed – I keep coming back to these three things: help, hope and home. I sense that these are the longings that all of us in the human family share. We all are in need of a little help from time to time, a little hope to propel us forward and a place to belong and be in community with others.
It is the church – not the social service agencies or the government or the schools – that have the unique opportunity (and responsibility!) to offer the message of the transforming love of God. While government can pass laws, and schools can educate children and Rotary clubs can advocate community service, and the medical community can offer resources of care, can any one of these – good as they are – transform the human heart? Can any offer a love that conquers sin and overcomes shame and reconciles enemies, and heals wounds and gives peace beyond understanding, and makes joy beyond ones circumstances possible and offers the hope of what might yet be in the hands of God? It is the local church that has the opportunity to offer help within and beyond the walls of the building. It is the local church that sees life through the lens of faith and therefore has a posture of hope towards what can and might be when placed in the hands of Gd. It is the local church that offers a place of belonging and home, a community to walk alongside on the journey of faith.
Help, Hope and Home – these are the resources entrusted to the church! These are the gifts all of us need. My prayer is that we will continue to think about, pray about and engage ways of sharing what we are uniquely gifted and empowered to do!
– Rev. Susan Leonard-Ray, District Superintendent