Last weekend, we heard a story about the prophet Elisha and about the prophet John the Baptist, both of whom demonstrated God’s Reign in word and deed. As a result, people would feel a deep conviction in their hearts and ask, “What then shall we do?” That question came from every direction – the crowds, tax collectors, soldiers, and even an enemy general whose duties forced him into a compromising place. Elisha’s and John’s responses to that question were surprisingly practical, given how fiery they tended to be in their preaching. They did not require heroic actions, but encouraged people to do live into God’s Reign with equity, justice, and service to others. So, that’s what we heard last weekend as our own calling, particularly those who are feeling disheartened and frustrated around national and global events.
That makes me think of a book that I read many years ago called
The Mustard Seed Conspiracy
. It’s been almost 40 years since that book came out, but I remember that it took the metaphor of the mustard seed and encouraged people of faith to engage in the world with works of hope and justice, not just in church-related events. So, today I want to encourage you to consider possible ways to get involved in God’s Reign outside of church events. Let’s look at just a few possibilities.
This Friday and Saturday, the Center for Citizen Peacebuilding at UCI is celebrating its 20
anniversary with a two-day conference on “
Building Sustainable Peace Movements in a Divided World
.” On Friday there are presentations on peace movements in conflict zones as well as working to address Climate Change. On Saturday there is a presentation specifically on the role of women in peacebuilding, among other topics. You can see more by clicking
. The events are free and open to the public. (I am sending my “Friday Blast” out on Thursday this week so you can hear about this event ahead of time.)
On February 11 at the United Way building in Irvine or February 29 at Geneva Presbyterian Church in Laguna Woods, United to End Homelessness is offering
courses. You will learn about causes of homelessness, the different types of homelessness in Orange County, and different paths toward solutions.
If you’ve already taken Homelessness 101 and want training for action, U2EH is offering an
Training for Housing Champions on March 4 at Temple Beth Sholom in Santa Ana. For more information and to register for the U2EH events, click
If you live in Newport Beach and want to encourage an effective and compassionate approach to addressing the challenge of homelessness, please reserve the evening of Tuesday, February 25 on your calendar. The details are still being worked out, but that night the NB City Council may hear a proposal that would benefit from having supportive voices in the audience. It will not be a yelling match, but a welcomed idea. If you are interested in attending, please contact me and I will share the details with you as they unfold. (
If you have a slightly used but still adequate computer that you are no longer using, one of our members has put a request for such on our Community Bulletin Board. You could reach out and make it happen.
If you know of other opportunities that St. Mark folk can participate in, the Community Bulletin Board is there for you to share it. Be sure to put a name and contact information if someone would like to follow up on your suggestion.
The best way for us to respond to the message that we heard last week is to get subversive and find ways to engage in works of justice, compassion, and service in our community, even apart from church-related events. Like a mustard seed, these small acts of engagement are how the Reign of God blossoms into fruition.
Mark of St. Mark