Amy Jones,
Agape Coordinator
Dear God, we come to worship you today. 
We come to pray, and listen.
You always hear us. 
Help us to hear you. Amen
Deuteronomy 11:13-19

13If you will only heed his every commandment that I am commanding you today - loving the LORD your God, and serving him with all your heart and with all your soul - 14then he will give the rain for your land in its season, the early rain and the later rain, and you will gather in your grain, your wine, and your oil; 15and he will give grass in your fields for your livestock, and you will eat your fill. 16Take care, or you will be seduced into turning away, serving other gods and worshiping them, 17for then the anger of the LORD will be kindled against you and he will shut up the heavens, so that there will be no rain and the land will yield no fruit; then you will perish quickly off the good land that the LORD is giving you.

18You shall put these words of mine in your heart and soul, and you shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and fix them as an emblem on your forehead. 19Teach them to your children, talking about them when you are at home and when you are away, when you lie down and when you rise.
A new semester recently started for the students I teach at Wesley Theological Seminary. I just met (virtually) a new bunch of students this week as my class, “Torah and Israel’s History” gets another go. I always start the class with an exercise using Janis Joplin’s “Mercedes Benz.” The song serves lots of purposes, but students are always a little decentered when I ask, “Is the song a prayer?” After all, Janis croons, “Oh, Lord won’t you buy me a Mercedes Benz…” 

Some students cannot be convinced that the song is not a prayer. This time, however, my students went on long rants about consumerism and prosperity gospel theology, renouncing the song as a “prayer” and arguing that it is a satire about how Christian theology has been co-opted to run an economic machine.

As a person who was raised with a strong Protestant Work Ethic, the song hits a little close to home. Where I grew up, in a rural farming community, hard work meant success and there were few insults worse than being called “lazy.” If you worked hard, you would be blessed with good things - money, food, loving family. 

This is a dangerous kind of theology. We all know that hard work does not always result in upward economic mobility. Many people do “all the right things,” but do not find the kind of success they were promised. This was eloquently illustrated in the On the Media series, Poverty, which takes on the myths our culture tells us about poverty.

You can follow all the commandments and it still might not rain on your crops. Loving God and neighbor is not a failsafe for hard times. It does help build the kin-dom of God, though. The commandments, most especially loving God and neighbor, put us in relationship with others and help us hone in on how to love each other with the same hue of love God has for us. When we do that, we create webs of social safety nets. We catch each other when we fall. 

It might not be a Mercedes Benz. It might not be a color TV or a night on the town. It might not be any of those things, and it especially might not be easy. Love won’t let us down, though. 
God of love, imprint your commandments on our heart and soul. Tattoo love to our arms and hands. Remind us that a bond of love makes a way where there is no way. Amen.
Amy Jones
Amy Jones, Agape Coordinator
Amy Jones our Agape Coordinator is an ordained deacon in the United Methodist Church. In this tradition, deacons are ordained clergy who bridge the ministry of the church with the needs of the world, and vice versa. In more than 15 years of ministry, she has worked in churches, in children and family ministry, higher education, and nonprofits. In each setting, her focus has been on matching the resources of the church with the needs of the world. Agape Community Kitchen is exactly the type of work she was called to do. 

Amy can be reached by email at:
The Presbyterian Church in Westfield continues to burn as a light in the darkness as our community weathers this fearsome storm of illness. Our reach of care continues to extend far beyond our immediate borders. You can help us make a real impact in the lives of others by joining in our work through your time, your talents, and also in the fruits of your labors.
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