Called Into Relationship
The Health Resources and Services Department recently reported that a new kind of epidemic has laid its grip upon on our world. This is not an epidemic of malaria or smallpox, but rather it is a new kind of epidemic. This is an epidemic of loneliness. Loneliness, HRSD reports, is as dangerous a health issue as smoking 15 cigarettes a day. This epidemic is not exclusive to specific demographics and effects both seniors and young people alike. This epidemic has grown to be such a significant area of concern in the UK that recently a “Minister of Loneliness” was appointed to address the mounting concerns over this issue of public health and safety.
One might ask, “But where is the Church in the midst of this epidemic?” and I would suggest that this is the correct question to be asking. However, the decrease in Church attendance nationwide has led to fewer and fewer people who consider themselves part of a faith community; the Church at large has lost a good portion of its influence over the status of the population’s social connectedness.
One of the priorities that we have identified as something to lean into more heavily is considering how we are inviting people into our community. How are we calling our neighbors into the Church, and into a growing relationship with Jesus Christ? We have our work cut out for us. Many of our neighbors have written off the Church as irrelevant, farfetched, and pointless at best. However, if we want to have an impact on our community, we must continue to consider how we are inviting our neighbors out of their loneliness and into relationship.
The purpose of our “Get On Our Lawn” concert series this summer has been to make that invitation easier. To invite our neighbors out of their living rooms, and onto our lawn. Out of their isolation and into relationship.
As I was considering the implications of what we are doing with “Get On Our Lawn,” I can’t help but think about Zacchaeus. Yes - you know the one. The wee little man who climbed up into a sycamore tree to see Jesus. The sinner, the tax collector, the man who everyone grumbled about. Jesus saw Zacchaeus up in his tree, called him out of that tree, and into a relationship with him. And what happened? Well, first Jesus was criticized for eating with sinners. But after that, Zacchaeus turned his life around. He was so moved by this encounter with Jesus that his entire life was transformed. This is what we long to do with our Get On Our Lawn events. To invite our onlooking neighbors into relationship with the Church - the body of Christ - that they might, like Zacchaeus, encounter Jesus. And that their lives will be transformed as well.
Who are the Zacchaeuses in your life? Who’s watching from their sycamore tree? Who do you know that needs to be called out of their living rooms and onto our lawn? Out of isolation and into relationship? Out of death and into life?
Our next Get On Our Lawn event is September 28 from 5-8pm. We hope to see you and Zacchaeus there.