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
Matthew 21:12-22

12 Then Jesus entered the temple and drove out all who were selling and buying in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who sold doves. 13 He said to them, "It is written, 'My house shall be called a house of prayer'; but you are making it a den of robbers." 14 The blind and the lame came to him in the temple, and he cured them. 15 But when the chief priests and the scribes saw the amazing things that he did, and heard the children crying out in the temple, "Hosanna to the Son of David," they became angry 16 and said to him, "Do you hear what these are saying?" Jesus said to them, "Yes; have you never read, 'Out of the mouths of infants and nursing babies you have prepared praise for yourself'?" 17 He left them, went out of the city to Bethany, and spent the night there. 18 In the morning, when he returned to the city, he was hungry. 19 And seeing a fig tree by the side of the road, he went to it and found nothing at all on it but leaves. Then he said to it, "May no fruit ever come from you again!" And the fig tree withered at once. 20 When the disciples saw it, they were amazed, saying, "How did the fig tree wither at once?" 21 Jesus answered them, "Truly I tell you, if you have faith and do not doubt, not only will you do what has been done to the fig tree, but even if you say to this mountain, 'Be lifted up and thrown into the sea,' it will be done. 22 Whatever you ask for in prayer with faith, you will receive."
Next week applications will open for the COVID-19 Emergency Rental Assistance Program, which are monies administered by the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs. Those whose income was negatively impacted by COVID-19 can apply to be considered for the randomized lottery for the funding. If their number comes up, they will be invited to fill out a full application, which will be reviewed to see if they qualify for the funding. 

Reading the FAQ’s for the funding exhausted me. There are a lot of requirements and the idea that one would attempt to meet all of the requirements and maybe not be selected from the lottery, or perhaps be selected and later deemed ineligible feels somehow like emotional manipulation, particularly if the alternative is eviction or homelessness.

I know that funding is limited and the idea of the lottery is to attempt to create an equitable system for dispersing the funds. Still, it makes me sad and angry that people must compete to have safe shelter during a pandemic. I wish our society valued housing as a human right.

I wonder if this heartbreak is some of what Jesus felt when he overturned the tables in front of the Temple? Was he angered that cultic rituals and access to the divine were bound up with oppressive economic and political systems?

A mentor once told me, “The Gospel isn’t for you. It is for the people who are poor, forgotten and disenfranchised.” He was reminding me that I am too white and privileged to be the ideal audience for the Gospel message. The Gospel will always have its greatest impact on the people that society deems “unworthy” of the benefits of human dignity, such as safe housing and nutritious food. For them, Jesus overturned tables and broke the sabbath to cure the sick.

Most days, I think the best I can do is get out of Jesus’s way. My role in ministry is simply to find ways to say “yes” to the things people need most. I hope we can all find ways to tear down barriers, build bridges, and simply say “yes” to the human dignity of those around us.
A Prayer for Justice
(Author Unknown)

Grant us, Lord God, a vision of your world as your love would have it:
a world where the weak are protected, and none go hungry or poor;
a world where the riches of creation are shared, and everyone can enjoy them;
a world where different races and cultures live in harmony and mutual respect;
a world where peace is built with justice, and justice is guided by love.
Give us the inspiration and courage to build it, through Jesus Christ our Lord.
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.
Please watch your email, our church website and Facebook page
for updates on the ways in which you can worship at home!

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and we hope you can tune in!
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