Now when the sun was setting, all those who had any who were sick with various diseases brought them to him, and he laid his hands on every one of them and healed them. But he said to them, “I must preach the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns as well; for I was sent for this purpose.”
—Luke 4:40, 43
Jesus’ earthly ministry was one of intentionally engaging the communities in both word and deed. His was a ministry of the Word that reached beyond the synagogue, but to wherever hurting people were who needed the healing balm of the Gospel. But Jesus also engages the communities as He restores the sick, casts out demons and shows kindness to the forgotten and the forsaken. From tax collectors and prostitutes to the lame and leprous, Jesus shows concern for all, but especially to those who the society of neglected. Jesus is both victim who fell among the robbers and the Good Samaritan who shows mercy to the foreigner. He is the One who would be forsaken by His Father and the One who will not forsake children, women, and the unclean, but shows mercy to the least and lowest.
Our congregations are located in communities where there are hurting and broken people who suffer from sin and its crushing effects. But just as our Lord is mindful of the plight of the least and lowest, He gives us the opportunities to follow in His steps of being people of the Word and strengthened by the Word, who are then sent to reach out in love to people in every kind of need.
From after-school tutoring programs to cancer support groups, our congregations across Missouri are showing Christ’s mercy and teaching His good news. In some towns our congregations’ merciful work is providing low income housing. In other places, it is providing housing and shelter for battered women. But Christ is much more than just a model of community engagement, He is the means by which we engage the communities. Mercy work is always for the purpose of speaking the Good of the kingdom of God. May we be reminded that Jesus does not remain in the synagogue, but goes to the hurting people with His healing work and Word. May the Spirit empower us by the Word to go forth into our communities with His Word on our lips and His mercy flowing from our hearts.
Prayer – Almighty God, our heavenly Father, we praise and thank You that You sent Your beloved Son, Jesus, to show mercy and love to the hurting and broken. Help us in these latter days to be faithful witnesses to Christ as we engage our communities with His merciful Word and work; through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.
Fraternally in Christ,
President Lee Hagan