Are there any words that the mention of or thought of cause you a moment of angst? One of those words for me is “needle.” I see a needle or hear someone talk about an IV and I am sure my blood pressure and heart rate soar, even if the needle isn’t for me.
In the church, there seem to be words that cause similar reactions. We all have our moments when the word “new” brings on increased tension for we fear the idea that change can bring the unknown into our midst. It is interesting that such a word, which is so important in the concept of the Christian faith, can cause such a reaction.
“Radical” is another term that can make us uneasy. Yet, during November, as the church made plans to be intentional with a missionary presence in the community, we were radical! I do not remember us using “radical” very much in the preparations, but there were obvious signs that the plans and our actual work as the hands and feet of Christ were nothing short of radical. Jesus must have been pleased. He is the prime example of being radical and called upon his followers to love and serve as he did.
Our Missions Team led the way by reaching out once again to our local elementary school campuses for our annual campaign to keep under-privileged kids warm with coats, gloves, and shoes. We stepped up in radical ways to meet these needs and, at the same time, respond to the request from our Nursery folks to bring an updated presence for our little ones. We made a Sunday worship experience a day to serve our neighbor. That was a day of being radical through worship. Worshippers flocked to the local stores to purchase items for Thanksgiving meals for people and then sorted, boxed, and distributed them as an extreme act of servanthood, all the while a group of faithful servants prepared a meal for anyone interested.
On that Sunday, I witnessed radical hospitality. I saw people being Christ in the stores and in watching strangers being invited to a hot meal. At Church, people were going out of their way to help others, showing them where activities were happening, parking further away from the door, making people feel a part of God’s work, welcoming guests, boxing up meals to go, and exemplifying the radical nature of God’s love. I was so blessed being a part of God’s “radical” ways.
Maybe we should be more intentional and connect words like “radical” and “new” with thoughts of Jesus, love, faith, and Christian response more often. The thought of needles has not always caused me stress. Until the age of five, I received weekly allergy shots and the regular allergy testing (shots in my back) that accompany allergies. It seems that when it was a regular occurrence there may be less worry.
Perhaps then we should become radical more often. Maybe we could regularly be radical with hospitable acts and extravagant in our love. Our world needs to see the hands and feet and especially the heart of Jesus in action. It’s what we do and who we are becoming.
As the season of Advent is now upon us, we are launching our new weekly worship experience and hoping to build a new community of believers in what we are calling the Pecan Street Mission. Our Church is committed to making this experience a place where new people can live and grow and experience the love of Christ in new ways. Yes, it is radical, but isn’t God’s love for us as we experience and prepare ourselves once again for the comings of Jesus?
I hope you too will find your way to the manger this season and will be a part of God’s radical coming into the world and each of our lives!
See you in worship!