By Mark A. Taylor
The picture (which accompanied the article “It’s Simple” by Luke Erickson and Tom Moen in this week’s print edition) reminds us of the virtuous woman described in Proverbs 31: “She opens her arms to the poor and extends her hands to the needy” (v. 20). She is typical of men and women described in our series ongoing through 2009. The theme (borrowed from last year’s National Missionary Convention) “Get Your Hands Dirty” connects their stories.
We’ve included in their number not only those whose hands are literally soiled by digging wells, collecting trash, remodeling mission outposts, or building homes. Instead the theme is a metaphor for all kinds of Christian service, a wide range of sacrificial activities to help the suffering in the name of Christ.
Sometimes dealing with physical grime would be easier than the service these folks render. Cleaning a park or painting a house are activities with a predictable beginning and end. But the commitment demonstrated by the counselors Nancy Karpenske describes in “Strengthening Families” is ongoing—and, we suspect, sometimes intrusive, often inconvenient, and usually unheralded. But surely these counselors extend their hands with emotional support as valuable as the lifting of any physical load.
This week’s stories add the dimension of partnership with civic and community organizations. Our writers echo what others have said: There’s really no need for the church to duplicate what the community has already begun. But when Christians take their place as a part of the community to make services possible, they demonstrate the love of God and earn the right to discuss it.
We look forward to telling more stories like these through the rest of the year. And we encourage servants like these to make the psalmist’s prayer their own:
“May the favor of the Lord our God rest upon us; . . . establish the work of our hands” (Psalm 90:17).
WATCH NEXT WEEK FOR THE SECOND OF OUR SPECIAL TWO-WEEK ISSUES THIS YEAR. Many of the features in the issue address the week’s central theme: “The Lord’s Supper, a Memory and More.”
• Ethan Magness tells us how his church teaches about and celebrates Communion. You’ll find insight and ideas for your own observance of the Supper in his reflection and suggestions.
• Jim Tune looks at Communion in a growing new church plant in Toronto. What is the impact of this weekly celebration on the multiethnic, religiously diverse community he is reaching?
• Paul Blowers thinks about memory and considers the special blessing—and responsibility—to remember.
• Victor Knowles reminds us how our practice of weekly Communion is reinforced by the history of our movement.