When Accompaniment Becomes a Calling
"The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it." John 1.5
Dear Partners in the Gospel,
This month concludes what has been an eventful autumn in the life of our places of ministry. Without a doubt there have been strategic planning meetings, fall annual appeals, and efforts to do the most effective ministry possible. There have also been a host of local, regional, national, and international crises which have added to the complexity of the fall. There have been massive protests, increasing turmoil, civilians living under the terror of siege, and a national election that has left our own nation more divided than ever. We are immersed up to our necks in a world of fear and scarcity and the water seems to be rising all the time. Ugliness and narcissism continue to rear their heads all around us. These are tough times to be generous and faithful stewards in the places we do ministry – or are they?
In spite of the narcissism, the ugliness, the scarcity, and the fear around us, there are other more powerful forces at work. There has been a deepening of the mutual support for one another in ministry. There has been a reinvigorated heart for ministry to the most at-risk of our neighbors. There has in fact been a deepening of our spiritual roots. There has been the life-giving work of the Holy Spirit to strengthen us and to bind us together for the sake of proclaiming the kingdom of God in word and deed. The church has been strengthened in its resolve to practice incarnational ministry for the sake of the hungry and the homeless. Together we have met current contextual challenges with faithful generosity and stewardship. We are using the abundance we have been entrusted with to do amazing things.
As the season of the Christ’s birth – the season of the Incarnation – begins, the faithful people of this synod continue to remember our call to be the real hands and feet for the sake of the world. One beautiful example has been the work of organizing emergency shelters for the homeless of Dakota County. During our most recent devastating cold snap, Dakota County put out an appeal for non-profits to step forward to offer space and resources to save our at-risk neighbors from the perils of freezing temperatures. Grace Lutheran Church in Apple Valley was the first congregation to step forward and offer their space – Prince of Peace in Burnsville followed quickly behind. Supported by an ecumenical and interfaith effort of faith community in Northern Dakota County, Dakota County has been able to provide a safe place for our neighbors for the last two weeks days. Resources and volunteers have poured in from those faithful stewards who recognize the abundance of gifts they are stewarding. The faithful have been strengthened to do ministry when it has mattered the most. Ugliness and narcissism are not the most powerful of forces at work in the world around us. There is still beauty and generosity.
Beauty and generosity are worth cultivating. Beauty and generosity are worth teaching. Yes, beauty and generosity are worth being stewarded well. A wise teacher and friend recently told me that our leaders must be about forging a culture of beauty and generosity in the midst of ugliness and narcissism. Today, I am grateful that this work is shared throughout our synod. I am grateful for your dedicated and faithful work in stewarding beauty and generosity in your congregations and in your daily lives. Together we are a sign of God’s abundance. Together we are signs of the kingdom. We are the hands and feet of Christ. This is truly God’s work and our hands.
The Rev. Tom Jenkins, Stewardship Coordinator