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Mike hopes to see the world turned upside down through local communities banding together for social change, especially churches which have recognized the radical calling to be good news to the poor, to set free the prisoners and oppressed, and to become the social embodiment of the reign of God on earth as it is in heaven. He lives with the blessed memory of his wife, in Durham, NC, and has three adult children living in three different states. He also shares his life with the Mt. Level Missionary Baptist Church in Durham, the faculty and students of Shaw University Divinity School in Raleigh, NC, and the faithful fans of Duke and Baylor Basketball in his neighborhood.

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Saturday, February 12, 2011

Remembering the Incarnational Vocation

Rev. Noel Castellanos, the executive of the Christian Community Development Association, recently sent a note that I thought worth sharing here.  In our time of economic crisis, we may be inclined to turn selfward, whether as families, individuals, or churches.  We see so many challenges and fear we cannot do anything but survive. 

But turning in on ourselves is the opposite of what to do in this crisis.  We have to continue to realize that God's calling to us, all the way back to the calling of Abraham, is a calling to be a blessing to others.  God blesses us, that we may bless others.  The incarnation reveals the superabundant love of God, shared among the three persons of the Trinity, turning outward toward blessing all humanity.  As followers of Jesus, we get to join him in that incarnational work.  Thanks, Noel, for the words here.

This past Sunday during my church's prayer time, a long-time member stood up to give a testimony before his church family that after two hard, long years, he had finally found a new job. Not just a job, but the perfect job, provided by God. This encouraging testimony came after "Coach" Wayne Gordon's Biblical teaching from the book of Job, which reminded us that bad things often happen to good people.

I am reminded that our core ministry is to live with and among men and women who know this lesson all too well. Violence, unemployment, kids struggling in bad schools, and overall difficult lives are not the exception, but the norm in our most of our neighborhoods, even for those who love God are serving Him diligently.

While sitting in a White House briefing tasked with developing the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, I caught myself reflecting on my friend's two-year struggle to find a job. It struck me that families are vulnerable to making bad financial decisions and falling victim to fraud when faced with these kinds of employment challenges. With so many of our families struggling, it is easy to feel overwhelmed!

As we approach Lent, let us take the time to re-examine our commitment to follow the God who left the comfort of heaven to enter the hurt and pain of our sin-filled world. Moreover, let us root our lives and our neighborhood work in a deep, daily walk with Christ. Let us be empowered to be agents of hope and justice wherever we see someone’s God-given dignity compromised.
Some leaders from the MetroIAF were at this meeting with Noel, Jim Wallis, and others.  Our national organizing work on the economy is one part of the bigger picture.  But Noel reminds us that nothing short of blending our lives into the lives of the world will move us toward the calling to let God's will be done on earth as it is in heaven.


Shaun Harr said...

“Let us be empowered to be agents of hope and justice wherever we see someone’s God-given dignity compromised.” As I read these words my mind went immediately to the numerous victims of bullying we have heard of in the news over the past few months. Regardless of our “religious” views on the reasons behind the bullying, responsible parenting dictates that our children understand the weight that their (and our) words carry. We often stop our teaching on this matter with “don’t lie” but “bridling the tongue” extends far beyond the ninth commandment.
Equally as disappointing as parental involvement in stopping bullying is the laissez-faire attitude of some teachers, coaches, and pastors when it comes to this behavior. Our Christian calling and duty are to stand up for the voiceless, regardless of the “reason” why their voice is being taken from them. Lives are at stake here. Standing idly by makes us complicit in the evil that causes the lives to be lost.

Anonymous said...

Remembering the Incarnational Vocation
I was talking to a fellow minister and she explained that she wanted to preach about the values of service. I told her not to expect the church to exuberant about the message. As a previous member, I was aware that this church subscribes to prosperity messages. As sure as my name is Gordon, the message didn’t go over like she thought. As Christians, many times we are more excited about hearing about getting blessed than the value of helping others. I think we need to focus on the calling of Abraham as much as the blessings of Abraham. If you really think about it, they are both interrelated.
-Gordon McKinney

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