I was approved to be on the Board of Leadership and Development for the yearly meeting. The board handles things like the yearly meeting’s relationship with the George Fox University and Seminary, the mentoring of pastors, pastor retreats, the raising of leaders, the recording process and things of that nature. I’m really excited about the people on that board and the things they’re working on (a lot of things around developing Quaker leadership).
I was also asked to speak, along with other church representatives, about what we’re doing to address homelessness in our town. I used some of the stuff I wrote about earlier, and shared some of the stories about how we got onto thinking about all this. The two things I felt were most important to stress were that there is an awareness problem (as is the case in many places). Because the homeless are often “invisible” they are easy to ignore or avoid. Just becoming more aware makes a difference. The second thing was that caring for “the least of these” is always the church’s responsibility first. A lot of us assume someone else is doing it and this is how problems of awareness and lack of help arise. Jesus never said Hire someone to “feed my sheep,” he simply said, “feed my sheep.” Thus we need to feed on a steady diet of good questions, questions that poke at these assumptions, our awareness, and drive at the issues causing people to be on the streets without help.
Cherice Bock visited our meeting on Sunday morning with her family and talked about her time spent with Christian Peacemaker Teams. What was really great about having her share for week focused on “Peace with the Nations” was that she complexified the Palestinian and Israeli conflicts. There was no boiled down political talking points, just real life stories she witness of actual people losing their homes, their families and friends, and their land. Between politics and media, this conflict has been reduced down to its most simplistic parts. No wonder it is easy to forget there are real people behind the stereotypes, the violence and the hatred. Cherice challenged us with a steady diet of alternative perspectives that wouldn’t allow for oversimplifications. Her query to us was no doubt provocative: What would happen if Christians devoted the same discipline and self-sacrifice to nonviolent peacemaking that armies devote to war?
Finally, January 31 was the last Sunday of the month, so it was time for another film night. This time we watched two short films on human trafficking. The evening was heavy but it was good to think through the reality that millions of people live in. Just because it’s not in front of us (or is it?) doesn’t mean it’s not our problem too. I appreciated being in a community willing to even show up and watch these films, let alone wrestle with the issues. We will keep feeding off a steady diet of colorful meals with a variety of films and voices not just for our “Last Sundays for the Earth” but on Sunday mornings and in our small groups, etc.
It was a good, and full weekend.