I took on this assignment to write something for the FOCUS Churches of Albany’s Advent devotional. This was my submitted copy, which may or may not be what shows up.
Text: Hebrews 13:7-17. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.”
As Christ was killed outside the city gate, let us also go ‘outside the camp’ to the marginalized and risk “the abuse he endured.”
In gratitude, “let us continually offer a sacrifice of praise to God…”
Quite a few of my friends are apathetic or even antagonistic towards the church. I totally get that. I’d been there myself some years ago.
My friends often see some elements of the church favoring those who have, the insiders. “Send money” so the pastor can have a bigger house, a better plane. I actually heard one of these guys say that if Jesus had come to earth in the 21st century, rather than the first, he’d be riding around in the newest and fanciest airbus.
That’s not the Jesus I’m seeing in this passage. He is instead a sacrificial Lord. While He is learned enough to swap scripture with the scribes and elders, he’s spending most of His time tending to the marginalized.
I’ve been a member of a FOCUS church since 1984. What inspires me about service to others is that doesn’t end at the sanctuary door. It goes “outside the camp” (v. 13), meeting the needs of the broader community.
Jesus commands us to feed the hungry, and FOCUS does that with food pantries, a breakfast club, and other services. “Do not forget to do good and to share with others.” (v. 16)
But FOCUS volunteers also sacrifice their time to do advocacy, trying to address the root causes that require a food pantry that was designed as a temporary activity to be in place for nearly five decades.
Just as Jesus brought people together to express God’s will, occasionally turning over a table or two, FOCUS mobilizes “individuals and other community organizations to work for systemic and structural change to address issues including poverty, social and racial injustice.”
Prayer: When people come to Advent services, they see the lighted candles and hear the familiar hymns. May they also see the love in our hearts that comes from caring for others, even those ragged people outside the door, per the example of Jesus.
Yes, There is a War on Christianity