Welcome Neighbor

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The Word became flesh

and moved into the neighborhood.

John 1:14 (The Message translation)

Since moving into our neighborhood nearly three years ago, at least 5 more neighborhoods have been built and occupied within a two-mile radius of our home.  While such rapid growth is a challenge, for the Church it creates wonderful opportunities to be the Word in flesh, to be the grace and truth of Jesus Christ to many others. God has planted Peace in His neighborhood, this prairie corridor for the purpose of joyfully sharing His Word and the Peace of Jesus Christ. God also has each of us in His many neighborhoods around the inland NW to do the same.

We value our neighbors and these neighborhoods because Jesus does. God does not plan our ascent into heaven, does not work in us to will our climb up a spiritual ladder to reach perfection, or find a way out of here. On the contrary, the same God who made this earth, loves, and joyfully created us in His image to dwell on the earth, came down to earth to be with us. Immanuel — God with us — is most powerfully manifest when the Word became flesh, not when we became spiritual. As earthlings, we bear the image of God. And as an earthling, Jesus dwells among us, moving into our  neighborhood, even dwelling within us by the Holy Spirit.

Our neighborhoods need to know Jesus. Our neighbors need to hear and see Jesus… and we may be the only sighting and sound of Jesus many may ever have in their lives. It is the ‘but’ and ‘because’ rule of gospel living and loving others:

“May those who know you but don’t know Jesus

come to know Jesus because they know you.”

It is not a work, but a natural expression of who we are, an image bearer of God. Even if the image is a bit beat up, wounded, tarnished, we remain God’s front line of showing and telling others the good news. And this is the good news: God loves, God calls, God delights in our neighbor, and so we too are compelled by God’s love to do the same. We look for the image of God in them. We see our neighbor as a work of God, one which He invites us to be part of as we welcome them and care for them.

We do this as we gather weekly for worship. We make sure no one sits alone. We rejoice in the sound of squealing children as well as squealing hearing aids. We learn each other’s names. We share a cup of coffee and conversation during fellowship. We consider creative ways to make room for guests and visitors such as additional services as we thank God for their presence in the body of Christ.

We do this as we pray for, as well as volunteer and serve at one or more of the various ministry partners of this congregation: Ecumenical Food Kitchen, Union Gospel Mission, Safe Passage, Family Promise, … just to name a few.

And finally we get to be the Word in flesh among our neighbors, among those for whom Christ died and rose again. As you walk or drive down your streets, begin praying for the homes around you. If a neighbor is out, pray for them. If you have time, stop and visit for a few moments, learn their name, welcome them into God’s neighborhood, where He has called you to be His Word in flesh.

Pastor Jon