We are in Ordinary Time after Epiphany

If we are to love our neighbors, before doing anything else we must see our neighbors. With our imagination as well as our eyes, that is to say like artists, we must see not just their faces but the life behind and within their faces. Here it is love that is the frame we see them in.

~Frederick Buechner

Shalom, the well-being of all God’s creation, is at the very heart of the Gospel, the good news Jesus offers the world. Through Jesus’ redemptive and restorative life, death and resurrection, we find peace with God and peace in God’s community, peace among neighbors and nations, peace that heals our wounding of creation, peace that mends exploitive economies, peace that renews families and the heart of every human. The world as-it-is is not the world-as-it-should-be. And, because of God’s promises – and because of God’s action in Jesus Christ – the world will one day be brought back to wholeness. Shalom.

God’s shalom is not merely a distant vision, but it is breaking in even now, wherever the Kingdom of God takes hold. We seek to join God’s shalom in a myriad of ways. Most of these ways, you’d have to discover by having actual conversations with people in our community. Some are working for shalom in Charlottesville or county schools. Some are making God’s world more beautiful with painting, melodies, lyrics, stories, photos and craft. Some are managing employees with dignity. Some are creating jobs for others. Some are stretching their mind and gathering wisdom to teach others to live justly and wisely. Some work for justice in a life of prayer. Some are healers in the hospital, and some take broken things (houses and electrical wiring, for instance) and put them back together again. Some are raising children to be honest and merciful. Some pursue friendship with the broken.

However, for all of us, shalom is not first something we do; but it is something done to us. God gives us well-being, hope and justice. And then we just pass it along.

To participate in shalom is, in large measure, to do what Jesus told us to do: to love our neighbor as we love ourselves. Together, as a community, we have committed to give away 20% of our community’s funds each year, with a substantial portion given to needs in the Charlottesville area. As a church, we pray that generosity will shape the whole of our life.