Sunday, April 25, 2010

Kissing the face of Jesus; serving at CityTeam

This weekend is Compassion Weekend at our church, where rather than meet on Sunday morning, we go into the community and serve, mostly on one of these projects. At our San Mateo campus, we kicked the weekend off with a terrific meeting.

First up was Brent leading the worship band -- a "youth" band featuring one dad who claimed to be 29, his teenaged(?) son Matt on keyboard, Ivana on violin, a teen flutist, and a trumpet player. Oh, Henry was on drums and I think there was one other person on rhythm guitar.

Next, Eric shared some stories and gave us some motivation for the weekend ahead: Even if we were "just" painting or landscaping or moving furniture, we were on the mission field.

Then Kevin delivered a message -- a summary of something he heard from John Ortberg at a conference. You can read parts of that in pages 2 and 7 of this transcript, but basically the idea is that if you look at what Jesus preached, it's all about something he called "the kingdom of God." Passages like Mark 1:15 and Luke 8:1 and Luke 9:2 and Acts 1:3 suggest that this concept of the kingdom of God is pretty important to Jesus. What's my "kingdom"? Basically that's the "range of my effective will," a place where things go the way I want them to. You have a kingdom; so do I. Wherever a two-year-old can say "No!" and make it stick, that's also a kingdom. The two-year-old's kingdom is limited and temporary, but it's a kingdom nonetheless.

When we say "Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven," we're asking God to make the earth his kingdom; we're asking him to do his will on earth the way it's done in heaven. And the good news is that the kingdom of heaven, the kingdom of God, the range where everything goes the way God would like it to go -- is coming near to this sorry, dark world. When we do God's will, we're part of that; we're bringing God's kingdom to earth.

Something else I remember from that message was an astonishing insight from Matthew 25. You may recall the passage -- Jesus is describing the day of judgment, where his sheep will be separated from the goats:

Then the King will say to those on his right, "Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me."

Then the righteous will answer him, "Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?"

The King will reply, "I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me."

So Mother Theresa was caring for a dying leper. This fellow had been out on the street for months (maybe years). She was holding his hand and kissing his face. Probably his last day of life, and how long had it been since he had last been kissed?

Someone asked her if she didn't feel any revulsion at all because of the leper's open sores, etc., and she said that she was, according to the above passage, actually kissing the face of her king, the Lord Jesus Christ.


CityTeam Painting Project

Last month, the lovely Carol talked with Charles, who directs the men's shelter at CityTeam in San Jose. Was there something that we could do for the men? He described a renovation project that some groups have done -- paint and replace carpeting in one of the dorm rooms. These are 20'x20' rooms housing six men. We settled on painting, and decided we could probably do two rooms. Steven drove to San Jose to go over some details with Charles and to eyeball the rooms, and Carol bought paint and tarps and brushes and roller covers.

On Saturday morning, we drove down to CityTeam -- Carol, Christina in one car and Steven and Suzie in another. We had ladders and brushes and rollers and a brush-cleaner in our car too. The lovely Carol wrote more about this on her blog. It was a great time, and we were quite tired at the end.

We went downstairs with the stuff we were going to take home. I told the receptionist that there was some work still to do in the lounge: switch and outlet plates to be replaced, thermostat cover and cue rack and other stuff to go back onto the walls, the TV cabinet to be moved back against the wall and so on. No problem, he said. Then there was the matter of the screwdriver I'd borrowed. "I wouldn't want José to get in trouble," I said, as I handed it to the receptionist. (José had taken me to see the tool-man, who was understandably possessive of his equipment.)

The receptionist was effusive in his appreciation. "You guys worked hard all day and did a great job," he said. The residents and the maintenance man would be happy to reassemble the room.

What a blessing, to be able to support these guys who are working hard to make their lives better. I pray that they may experience the reality of God's promise: To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, he will give eternal life. (Romans 2:7, NIV)

No comments: