Bringing hope where there is despair
Christmas has been a season of generous plenty for Whitechapel Mission. The mound of gifts of clothing, and household goods has looked like a mountain for weeks. Our staff and volunteers have been working extra hard, but for a while, as soon as a large amount has been sorted and cleared more gifts have arrived. I am told that this has been the most giving at Christmas we have seen.
We have also had an experiment at having a worship service in the morning where we have linked hymns, songs, prayers, readings and conversation to a practical serving breakfast session. We called this Morning Worship. There were a team of 10 people from our circuit churches, who had known about the mission, supported the mission, but not experienced its work. After breakfast had finished we rearranged the tables and chairs, and we were joined by people who had stayed over from eating breakfast and some of our members.
It was a chance to experience Methodism – prayer and action, social gospel, word and work. For many of us, the distinctions we usually like to draw on giving and receiving were not as clear-cut as we try and make them.
In fact, I was drawn to the conversation Jesus had with the woman from Samaria at the well (John chapter 4). The woman from Samaria talks of their ancestor’s tradition of worshipping on this mountain, and that she has heard that Jesus is saying that people must worship in Jerusalem. Jesus tells her that true worshippers will worship in spirit and truth – not the mountain or Jerusalem.
So the serving and giving and receiving and talking and listening and sharing that happen with breakfast, tea and coffee, clothing, cleaning up are as much part of our worship as the hymns and readings and prayers and sermons. This applies to our personal worship as much as it does to our corporate worship. I guess it boils down to what do you think is the most important thing in your life. If it’s God – then worship God: in spirit and truth; in giving and receiving; in prayer and action.
Jesus seemed worried less about where worship took place – mountain or Jerusalem – dining area or church (and probably in what form). Jesus seemed to be more concerned with what motivates our worship. So the challenge for all of us is to be motivated by God’s love – let’s keep trying to live that way.
By the way – if you fancy helping to move (some of) the mountain then you can always bring a small group for a clothing challenge in the next month or so. Contact Whitechapel Mission and help if you can.
Grace and Peace. John.
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