By Dan Wilson
We gathered in a circle to pray. For me, it was my first time with this group. Some of the faces were familiar, some I had never seen before. We prayed, not for ourselves, but for the people that would soon come through the door of the food bank at Plateau Outreach Ministries. And I know God heard our prayer. I could tell by the smiles on the faces of those helping and those being helped.
We live in difficult times, and in times such as these, it is all too easy to turn inward, to look out for ourselves and neglect others. In our modern world, the cry of “I’ve got mine!” too often drowns out the cry of those in need. What a blessing it was to see the caring hearts and hands, the smiles of welcome, and hear the words of thanksgiving from those who are touched by this ministry. What a wonderful affirmation that God’s kingdom is alive here on the Plateau.
Throughout salvation history, God has called on God’s people to help those in need. God has always called on the people to help the widow, the orphan, the stranger. The Book of Ruth is a good example of that call to social justice and care.
Jesus breathed new life and understanding into the call to serve our neighbor when he fed the hungry, healed the sick, welcomed those whom no one else would welcome. He taught us in the Gospel of Matthew that those who feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, welcome the stranger, clothe the naked, care for the sick and visit the prisoner will inherit the kingdom. He told us to forgive as we are forgiven, then taught us how to do that.
Those were moments when we are able to get a real glimpse of God’s kingdom come on earth. Moments when the fabric of this world is torn from top to bottom and God’s kingdom breaks through. Times when we really see what God’s kingdom will be like. For God’s kingdom is a place where we live our lives loving God and loving our neighbor as our self, even when our neighbor’s life may not be very pretty.
Christians know that we don’t get our ticket to heaven punched by good works. Our salvation is by God’s freely given gift of grace for all people through our faith in Christ. But as we live into that great gift of grace and forgiveness, in our joy, we want to do God’s work. Not because we have to, but because we can do nothing else.
It is a blessing, as a new member of your community, to live in a town that not just cares for those in need, but lives into God’s call. A call to help our neighbors by using the gifts God has given us, by using our caring hearts and helping hands. Together, we celebrate God’s amazing gift of grace, because in our joy we can do nothing else. And in that great celebration, we will see the kingdom unfold, right here in Enumclaw. I got a glimpse of that in-breaking of the kingdom at Plateau Outreach Ministries and it was a beautiful sight to see.
Now that summer is here the need at the food bank does not diminish. With the current economy, more and more people are out of work, more and more families are in need of assistance and school children are now at home and hungry. Please remember those in need when you do your shopping. You can be sure that there will be an amazing smile on someone’s face when you do that. And it won’t just be your smile.