Proclaiming the Good News to the Poor
“He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day, he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. He stood up to read, and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written: “The Spirit of the Lord is on me because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”” Luke 4:16-19 NIV
Over the past weeks Juan and Amanda have been attending Dinner Church. They came this past Wednesday with some bad news. They had been kicked out of the boarding house where they had been staying. The resident that allowed them to stay with her broke into a locked area of the house setting off an alarm and issuing a call to the police. Juan was there when it happened and was charged with trespassing. He had to leave and had no opportunity to take any of their possessions with him.
Debby and I were very troubled to hear this. We hear these types of stories with the poor and homeless who move from one place to another to find somewhere to stay.
When Jesus took the scroll with the Isaiah passage, he read what were his marching orders for his ministry. The passage foretold where, for what, and to whom he was sent. Jesus proclaimed that where he was sent was to the greatest area of need. His priority was reaching the places where there is deprivation, oppression, enslavement, and blindness. What his ministry is to accomplish is to combat these dark elements of society and bring hope, freedom, sight, and salvation. Those to whom therefore he is sent are the poor, the oppressed, and imprisoned.
Jesus never overlooked the wealthy or the privileged, but he directed his attention to the poor and marginalized in society. The poor loved Jesus and followed him. The wealthy and prominent, at best, kept him at bay, and at their worst hated him and sought to destroy him.
My two years serving with CCDC and Westminster Community Center have opened my eyes to a truer understanding of Jesus and his ministry. Individuals like Juan and Amanda have changed my thinking about the mission of the Church. I see Jesus in a different light and the mission Christians have in a clearer way. Jesus calls us to bring Good News first to the neediest of our world. The center of the mission is not a sanctuary but a street. Church is not a monument to religion but a movement of the Spirit. Read the New Testament and you see Jesus always on the move out with the people who needed him. And read of the early Christians and they likewise were on the move reaching out with the Good News of Jesus and serving the poor.
I grew up thinking that I was a Christian because I sat in a pew on Sunday mornings. I found Christianity to be awfully boring, and in college, I never went to church until I encountered Jesus one night. I soon started serving at a church and got involved reaching out to high school kids through YoungLife. Debby and I have sought to be led by Jesus wherever he wants us to serve. This last journey has taken us to a deeper understanding of the Good News and its power to reach the neediest of our community.
Last Wednesday before Juan and Amanda left to go stay overnight at the used car lot office building, we helped them with a coat for Amanda, food, and other provisions. Juan has a roofing job and hopes to save money to pay rent. They are using the resources of Horizon House to find a place to live.
Come and be a part of Christ’s mission at CCDC. We have many great donors and volunteers, but the need is so great. Help support us to fulfill the mission of Christ and come serve the neediest in our community.
May God’s Peace be with you,
Pastor Jim and Debby Riley