There are many things about this church family that makes me proud to be the pastor here at Downtown Mitchel First UMC, but one of the main reasons is how we do missions. The mission emphasis that our church has and that our church members carry out is really quite significant for our community.
Of course, Love Feast is one of the main mission focuses we have, which also entails the backpack/school supply give-away in the fall. As I type these words, a blood drive is taking place here at our church. That’s another way we are in mission. There’s our support of the Mitchell Food Pantry, Meals on Wheels, etc. Yesterday evening a number of our High School Youth Group delivered flowers and Mother’s Day Cards to some of the women of our church who are shut-ins at home or are in one of the care facilities in our community, because they wanted these individuals to know we remember them and that we care.
A percentage of our offerings go to various mission projects our Church’s Missions Team has identified for us. There’s the “Kits,” a team in our church assembles these faithfully. The prayer shawls, and quilting ministry. There’s the United Methodist Women and United Methodist Men who quietly do mission work that most of us never hear about. If we identified the number of organizations, the hours our church family dedicates to various causes, and dollars given in support of these ministries and programs, it would truly be amazing.
So, the question becomes, “Why?” Why do we do all this mission work? There are a number of valid answers to that question; we want to make a difference in our community, we want to help people, our faith calls us to serve. These are all possible answers. But another answer might be, because it is “life giving” for those involved in the work.
Recently in my personal quiet time, I read a passage from the Book of Psalms. It was Psalms 52 to be exact. In this Psalm the writer is showing the difference between the life of one who follows the path of godliness and the one who follows the path of evil. Part of the imagery in the Psalm says the person who follows the evil path will be uprooted. Another passage says, “God will break you down.” The visual image is that the person who focuses on evil in this world will cut off and eventually wither away.
After our recent late spring snow storm, I’ve been amazed at the number of limbs that were broken off trees. In fact, I’ve seen an entire tree toppled by the wind and the snow. It is slowly dying. That’s the image the Psalmist wants us to have – those who chose to live apart from God will slowly die off and fade away. But then the writer also goes on to say that he is a “green olive tree” in the house of God. In other words, he’s saying he finds “life” and “bears fruit” because of the steadfast connection to God.
Missions is not the only way to stay connected to God, but it is a great way to live the values of God. It is a great way to be the hands and feet of God. It is a great way to know that one is making a difference in the world for at least one other person. If you see someone with a bit of a bounce in their step and a gleam of life in their eyes, chances are they are involved in mission work in some way. Are you feeling disconnected, cut off from people or from God? It isn’t a magic answer…but you might give some type of mission work a try. You too can be like a “green olive tree in the house of God.” You too can find life!