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By Pastor Richard Boatman - Oakwood United Methodist Church, Pleasant Hill
There is no higher season for the Church than Lent and its climax into Holy Week and Easter Sunday. From the imposition of ashes until we declare, “Christ is Risen” is a time of remembering, repenting and reflecting.
These forty days are an opportunity for going inwardly deeper. But in biblical practice, depth is followed by breadth. Maxims move from being internalized to being mobilized. Loving God is given expression through loving our neighbors. In simplified form, we go from Lent to Sent.
It’s easy for suburban congregations to substitute sending checks to our “neighbors” rather than being sent by God to them. We get busy with work, school and sports schedules mushroom, distractions abound, etc. While generously contributing our dollars is necessary and certainly has its place, there is a spiritual vitality that is often absent unless we get involved. As Admiral Yamamota is credited with saying in the aftermath of Pearl Harbor, “I fear all we have done is to awaken a sleeping giant and fill him with a terrible resolve,” we need awakened to God’s call and recommitted to a resolve to “be His hands and feet.”
To this end, Saturday, April 26 will function as Oakwood’s rallying point to heighten a broader awareness of and connection to our “neighbors.”
First, we’ll gather at Oakwood at 8:30 a.m. for a pancake and sausage breakfast served by our men’s Bible study. Donations for this will go to Imagine No Malaria. Second, at 9:10 we will pray over and send out several compassion teams to work in nearby neighborhoods for about three hours.
As of this writing, our junior high youth will be assembling May Baskets and then delivering them to the Capital Park area. Our senior high will help ready a room as a day care center in one of our Hispanic church facilities. One adult team will work for Habitat for Humanity, another for Joshua Christian Academy, and yet another for Bidwell Riverside.
This community-building beginning will hopefully be a spark for larger, ongoing manifestations of “loving our neighbors” throughout the year. While individuals and groups from Oakwood have modeled this for some time, the goal is for such a mission mentality to become more generalized within our church culture’s spiritual DNA.
It’s exciting to be a part of reaching out to those who are reaching up. And powerful is this season of Lent when, after being renewed, we follow our Master’s call to be sent into the world around us.