What makes people sit outside and distribute hand-made blankets to parents on a blistery Saturday morning? What makes a group of people dress up in silly costumes, buy countless bags of candy, and decorate a church basement for kids from the community to come and trick-or-treat in a safe, warm environment? What makes people, especially those who have so little themselves, go to the store and purchase diapers and formula to give to Boone County parents? What makes others bake treats, pay for massages, and faithfully give “Pay Day Treats” to encourage local elementary school staff every single pay day? What makes some people go to the local food ministry on a Saturday to eat, fellowship, and be part of a community “different” than themselves? What makes people give? For heaven’s sake, what makes people start a food ministry themselves, purchase and renovate an abandoned home, and serve people respectfully and with dignity “restaurant-style”?! What makes people “get outside” of themselves with and for the sake of others?
For the people at Otterbein UMC and fellow United Methodist churches throughout Boone County, I think the answer is pretty straight-forward: “Because Jesus loves you.”
Because: Jesus. loves. you.
Its beauty is found in its simplicity. By and large, we are simple churches filled with simple people doing simple acts of mercy, justice, and love. Like a simple seed that grows into a fruitful, sheltering tree. Like yeast that spreads its way slowly, but surely through a loaf of bread. Like tiny granules of salt that provide mouthfuls of flavor. It’s the simple stuff that can be the tastiest and most beautiful.
Jesus loves you. Jesus loves me. And that love is simultaneously a blessing and a call to action.
So much I hear in the world is negative. So much of what I hear in the church is negative. But when I see simple acts of God’s love invading individuals’ lives and spreading throughout communities, I am reminded of the Good News of the God revealed to the world in Jesus Christ:
“Love always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.” 1 Corinthians 13:7-8.
And here’s what’s so beautiful: “God is love,” 1 John 4:8 tells us. God, therefore, always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
Perhaps God is placing God’s trust and hope in you, in me, in us to be God’s Good News messengers. In the simple acts of love, justice, mercy, and hope, there is love. There is God: the God who always protects, always perseveres against injustice, mercilessness, hopelessness, and places of misconstrued love. In this good work, God never fails.
May we be captivated by this God’s love and respond to its call to action.
May we live in such ways that proclaim to those we come in contact with in the simplest ways and at the simplest places: Jesus loves you.