An Invitation to Engage
A message from Althea Taylor, Director of Compassion, Justice, and Immigration
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people's sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation.
2 Corinthians 5:17-19
Followers of Christ, as the church, have a particular role in the world. The Apostle Paul reminds us in 2 Corinthians 5: 11-21, that Christ has given the church the “ministry of reconciliation”. We who have been reconciled to God are called to also be reconciled to others. As Christ ambassadors we are in the world so that Christ may make his appeal to a world in need of embracing God’s love.
Our present days are wrought with anguish. We are pressured on every side within a culture that has pitted itself against God and against each other. Yet I believe now is the time for the church to reexamine how Christ’s love may be demonstrated through His ambassadors. Ambassadors who are not indifferent to the challenges of the day and who are willing to examine the witness of our love of God and neighbor as we engage a world desperate for a credible witness of the power to transform lives.
In our faith tradition, we are called to embrace and engage our growth in relationship to Christ through the “Means of Grace.” John Wesley believed it was the responsibility of every Christian believer to grow outwardly and inwardly in their faith.
The means of grace are things we do or participate in that open us up to God and position us so that we might be drawn closer to God, in order that we might experience God’s love and grace in our lives. God graciously works through these things (prayer, keeping commandments, fasting, reading scripture, The Lord’s Prayer, and Christian conference) to transform and make us more like Christ—all of this by faith and practical engagement.
I wonder, is it possible that our present challenges offer an opportunity for the church to grow through compassion, justice, and immigration? An opportunity to engage the means of grace to examine ourselves, our witness in the world, our relationship with Christ and with our neighbor. Perhaps it’s an invitation to go deeper in our witness of our love for God and a call to live out loud the ministry of reconciliation?
Many on the district have asked what is Compassion, Justice, and Immigration all about on the Metro NY District? Why is this a focal point for our district? The answer for me is simple. Our present culture demands we embrace and engage the existential questions that many in our churches, as well as those looking at us from outside the walls of the church, are asking:
What does God have to say about injustice? Where is the church on matters of compassion, justice, and immigration? Why is her witness so silent?
Are we willing to engage the times we are living through, or will we remain the same?
The gospel and the call to live our witness of Christ in the world still remains. So, how do we “live out” compassion? Jesus’ coming into the world was an act of justice, what does it mean to live justice? Can we be further reconciled to God and each other through acts of compassion, pursuing justice and fighting for the immigrant neighbor? Is this not the ministry we are called to in the church?
In light of these questions, for those who are willing, I extend an invitation for you to join with other leaders across the district in a study and conversation on what it looks like for our district to embrace and engage the Means of Grace through the ministry of reconciliation.
This February, we will begin a journey where we examine how Christ might be challenging us to bear witness to the love of God through compassion, justice & immigration. Our format will begin with online discussions arising out of our collective reading.
Beginning Monday, February 7, 2022, at 7pm, we will meet for an online conversation with our MNY district brothers and sisters who will be reading Called to the Fire by Chet Bush. Called to the Fire is the story of a fellow Nazarene, Rev. Dr. Charles Johnson, who recently passed on January 12, 2022. It is the true story of Dr. Charles Johnson, an African American preacher who went to Mississippi in 1961 during the summer of the Freedom Rides. Fresh out of Bible School, Johnson hesitantly followed his call to pastor a church in Mississippi. The story chronicles a passion for God, a passion for people, a passion for justice. The story of his call to pastor amid the challenges of the 1960’s is as relevant today as it was then.
I invite you to join me in in engaging the Means of Grace towards our call to the ministry of reconciliation and a credible witness to the world. Please register below and I’ll see you virtually on February 7, 2022, at 7pm.