Advent and Christmas reminds us that Jesus came to proclaim good news the poor and he asked us to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, and welcome the stranger. It could be the holiness of the season that causes us to remember. It could be perhaps that the contrast to the abundance of season causes us to remember. Just as in this picture the contrast of the stump to the trees reminds us that not every one is equal in this world.
But what about the rest of the year? What can cause us to remember the poor when we don’t feel as holy or giving?
Let’s use the Wesleyan Quadrilateral to focus on the issue of poverty and how the church should grieve and respond to our fellow people.
Scripture: Paraphrased above, Matthew 25:44-45 says: “Then they also will answer, ‘Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not take care of you?’ Then he will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’” Not only did Jesus come to this world for the poor, he also asks us to care for the poor as well.
Tradition: Currently “Engaging in Ministry with the Poor” is one of the four areas of focus in the UMC. But the UMC has a rich history of missions dating back to Mission Societies in the 1820s. Ministry with the poor is considered a means of grace or a way to experience God in our lives.
Experience: Our experiences when we work with others transform us. We cannot deny that the world is broken and that there is an injustice in the quality of life differentials around us.
Reason: Studies show that the happiest countries in the world have higher life expediencies, social support, civil economy and subjective well being. Reducing poverty (even by broader definitions of poverty) leads to happier people.
Why then do we not grieve more over poverty? When will we repent? It is obvious what God is asking of us yet our world shows we are failing. How long will we sit in the shadows, covering ourselves?
Until Everyone Hears,