I hope that you are doing well... we're camping out right now just north of the Finger Lakes region in New York, not far from Lake Ontario. We've enjoyed the spot so far. Our temporary neighbors have been very friendly, bringing gifts of firewood and popcorn. After a bad rain storm this morning one couple brought over freshly baked muffins. Unfortunately most of our stuff is drenched, so right now we're trying to dry things out before we hit the road for Clay, NY.
This past weekend we had the privilege of speaking at my home church, Zion Covenant in Jamestown, NY. I'd been waiting for 10 weeks for this weekend - it was hard to believe that it was actually here! It was so great to spend time with family, friends, and my girlfriend... and the response and support that we received from all that we met was overwhelming. It was so good to be at home and see first hand that so many from my home church have been behind us all the way.
Last night we were in Rochester, at Artisan Church. The evening that we spent there was wonderful. One topic that is still ringing in my ears is the importance of being incarnational in the places that we seek to be involved. Too many times ministry or outreach is done at arms length. We may travel into the city or to a distant country to do the work of Christ, but at the end of the day, many of us return from places that we label as "unsafe" or "bad neighborhoods" to the safety and comfort of our homes and quiet neighborhoods.
But the incarnation models a different way. Christ did not minister to people at arms length. He was born in the stable to reach out to the shepherds. He ate in the homes of tax collectors to speak to the outcasts. The message of the incarnation is clear - God validates our worth as humans by coming and living as one of us. The church must follow this example and live in this incarnational way to validate the worth of those to whom we are reaching out. What does this look like? I think that we need to seriously evaluate where our churches are located and where we as individuals choose to live. If we really want to bring the love of Christ to the inner city, or to the so-called "bad neighborhoods," that's where we should be.