Ministry WITH the Poor
Scriptures, Reflections, & Prayers for Faith UMC’s Mission & Vision
“The Spirit of the Lord is on me because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to (with) the poor…” Luke 4:18
This past year the body of Christ at Faith began a five year journey of following Jesus in his essential call as found in chapter 4 of the gospel of Luke. In 2015 we celebrated the Anointed One and claimed our own anointing as the basis for ministry. Followers of Jesus too are “anointed”—anointed to serve as disciples of Jesus, to be his “witnesses . . . to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8), and to serve as God’s co-creators in bringing about the Kingdom of God on earth. We learned that being “anointed” as disciples for the transformation of the world does not imply superiority; in fact, quite the opposite is true.
In the coming year the body of Christ at faith takes up the first clause of our call as followers of Jesus – Ministry WITH the Poor. The scripture actually says “Ministry TO the poor.” However, I have been chafing against this word “TO” and all it may suggest. “TO” may suggest that those who are offering the ministry are in no way ‘poor’ themselves. “TO” also implies that the best way to address inequities is to flood them with resources from the ‘haves’ to the have-nots.’ “Ministry WITH the Poor” involves ministries of love and justice, where appropriate action is defined and taken in relationship with, among, and by those who are impoverished — materially, spiritually, or otherwise. One way or another, all experience suffering and poverty, all are in need of grace, and all are called to minister to and show grace to others. Guided by love and grace, Ministry WITH the Poor requires mutuality of relationship with, by, and of the poor. Ministry WITH the Poor is fundamental to our Wesleyan roots and integral to the United Methodist Church’s mission:
“to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world
by proclaiming the good news of God’s grace and by exemplifying Jesus’ command to love God and neighbor, thus seeking the fulfillment of God’s reign and realm in this world” (The United Methodist Book of Discipline 2008, par. 121).
Indeed, Ministry WITH the Poor is a biblical imperative—as much for everyone today as it was for Jesus when he proclaimed: “The Spirit of the Lord is on me because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners, and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” (Luke 4:18-19; see Isaiah 61:1-2; 58:6-10; Leviticus 25:8-55)
Prayer: Dear God, Be my guide in this New Year. Show me all the ways in which Jesus will act WITH God’s people through me in the year ahead.
Peace and Grace.
January Prayer Focus:
“John announced how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power; how he went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed.” Acts 10:38 NRSV
Prayer: God of new beginnings, bless and strengthen Faith’s pastors, staff and ministry leaders.