I still remember the moment when I realized that some of the “greeters” at the church I grew up in weren’t just greeters because they wanted to make others feel welcome when they arrived for worship. As it turned out, the real reason these folks showed up early wearing their best smiles is because they had something to sell, and they hoped that some of those they greeted might one day become customers.
I also remember overhearing a conversation among some church leaders about a ministry the church supported. The question being debated was whether or not the church should continue supporting a ministry that was meeting dire physical needs when few, if any, of those being served were coming to faith as a result of that service.
The reality is, whether it’s in one of these or any number of other ways, far too often our efforts to “reach out” have strings attached. Far too often, we reach out only as a means to some other end, rather than recognizing that reaching out is itself a worthy end. This morning, however, Jarrod reminded us that the resurrection equips us with a new way of reaching out. This way of reaching out grows out of the convictions that God created us for community, that God longs for creation to experience peace, and that God’s calling on our lives is for us to overcome evil with good. When we reach out on the basis of these convictions, we find that reaching out is indeed its own worthy end, regardless of what comes of our efforts.
As we continue to reflect on what it means to embody this new way of reaching out, it seems appropriate to begin by meditating on the themes of community and peace in the two videos below and the questions that follow.
Beyond Throwing Stones
Questions for reflection on the “Beyond Throwing Stones” Video:
1. When have you felt like you were on the receiving end of thrown stones? How did that experience feel and how has it impacted you since?
2. When have you thrown stones at others? How might you have responded differently so that relationships could have been built or sustained and community prioritized rather than damaged?
3. Who do you make it a point to spend time with with whom you have some significant difference (or many)? Think of one more person that fits this description with whom you can make an intentional effort to be together.
Questions for reflection on the “Peace” Video:
1. What do you make of the connection between worship and peace?
2. Have you ever received the gift of peace so that it enabled you to encounter someone very different without fear? What was that experience like? Why do you think you were able to receive peace in that moment?
Having reflected on the themes of community and peace, we can now turn our attention to the theme of overcoming evil with good. To make this abstract phrase a bit more concrete, let’s think of it as service to others. Check out a brief article about some grandmothers in Greece, watch the two videos below, and then reflect on the questions that follow.
Pension for the Common Good
The Hand That Steadies The Plate
Questions for reflection on the theme of service:
1. What about these acts of service inspires you?
2. What about these acts of service unsettles you?
3. When have you been on the receiving end of no-strings-attached service from others? How did that make you feel and how has it impacted you since?
4. When have you offered no-strings-attached service to others? What was that like?
5. Spend some time in prayerful reflection, asking God to reveal to you a person or group of people who are different than you to whom you can offer no-strings-attached service.