Mount Calvary Friends & Family,
Normally, I attempt to share a devotional message with information about what’s happening at Mount Calvary in this monthly letter. This month I want to shift that a bit and share an excerpt from a Concordia Seminary Journal article that speaks to our Camp Restore Detroit efforts.
Before the excerpt, I want to highlight the coming season of Lent that begins with Ash Wednesday, March 6th at 7:00 p.m. Lent is a penitential season in which we are encouraged to set aside time to reflect on the awesome price God paid in sending Jesus, His Son, to be sacrificed for our sin. The story of “The Unfaithful Tenants” in Matthew 21:33-41 reminds us of the efforts and sacrifices God has made to call His people to Himself. It also warns of the judgment that ultimately falls on those who fail to see their unfaithfulness, repent of their unfaithfulness, and turn to our Lord in faith. That call to repentance and faith is a key part of all our worship and life, but especially so in Lent. Our Lenten message series focuses on “The Lord’s Prayer” together with its meaning for our lives in the context of the Passion. . . . I hope you plan to join us for worship each week and, beginning the week after Ash Wednesday, for our 6:00 dinner.
And now a few words from: Rev. Dr. Theodore Hopkins, “Narrating the Church at the Dusk of Christendom”, Concordia Journal, Fall, 2017, Volume 43, Number 4, pages 29-41; excerpt, portions from pages 37-39.
Christian congregations must see themselves as eminently local, called by Christ to this community. Just as Christ entered into the fullness of human life in His humiliation and served His creatures, congregations must become local, looking to faithfully serve their neighborhood. . . Eric Jacobsen argues, “Parish thinking in a very general sense has to do with accepting geography as a significant factor in faithfulness to God’s call on our lives.” This kind of parish model is not about drawing lines for membership; it’s about identifying the role of locale as the place where Christ calls it to witness and service. As such, the people of the congregation need to spend time in the neighborhoods, getting first-hand knowledge of the people and the places and seeing where God is calling them to His mission. This is not the knowledge of a tourist but the knowledge of one who is invested in and has a stake in this neighborhood. As such the congregation does not see itself as trying to reach “them over there” with the Gospel but the congregation is trying to reach “us right here.”
Our Camp Restore leadership team reflected on our ministry in a similar way to that described by Pastor Hopkins as we developed our Mission Statement: “Our mission is to demonstrate our Christian hope while working together to restore our Detroit Community.” It is this local focus identified in Pastor Hopkins’ article that spurred the development of our Camp Restore ministry within the boundaries of Detroit and not as a commuting ministry for those coming to serve. It is the sense of our community and that those around us are our neighbors that move us to encourage Mount Calvary members to be so active in this ministry, seeking to engage members of our community in every way possible. I want to personally thank everyone who has played a role in this ministry we share. You are a huge part of the success we have seen so far in reaching out and your support will continue to be needed as we move forward.
Pastor Hopkins also writes: Genuine Christian service is more than giving to another in need; Christian service receives another as truly human, made in the image of God…. Congregations, then, serve their communities first by being present with them, listening, and learning. Such service does not come with ready-made answers, quick to talk and slow to listen, but follows the humiliation of Jesus to come into life with the community and the world. This kind of entrance into life may not seem like it does much, but through prayer and presence, the church inhabits the story of Christ’s service who entered into life with us in order that He would save us in Him.
A member of our community reflected these concepts last summer as she spoke to a group of campers sharing that they may not think they were doing much, but they were doing great things as the Spirit of God was moving in the community through them. As a part of this ministry it is my continued prayer that our community will continue to see the Spirit of God moving through us!
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About The Author
Since 2015, Pastor John Carrier has been Mt. Calvary Lutheran Church's pastor in Detroit, Michigan. He is also the Director for Camp Restore Detroit. Mt. Calvary has a bi-monthly newsletter, which opens with words from Pastor Carrier, called "From The Pastor's Desk..."