“We are not human beings trying to become spiritual. That task has already been done for us by our initial creation as ‘images of God’ (Genesis 1:26). We are already spiritual beings. That is God’s gift. Our desperate and needed task, the one we have not succeeded at very well after all these centuries, is how to become human! Jesus literally turns religion on its head. He is always moving down, descending into the fully human, identifying with our tragic and finite situation. We miss him entirely when we are always running up the down staircase. Our task is to follow and imitate him, not offer him incense, titles, and shrines that he never once asked for. Again, all we need to do is to take his lead. Most of the world is so tired of ‘spiritual people.’ We would be happy just to meet some real human beings. They always thrill the heart, just as he did. . .” Soul Brothers: Men in the Bible Speak to Men Today by Richard Rohr

When Jesus told us simply to love our neighbour the Pharisees attempted to complicate it and turn that command into a spiritual concept “who is my neighbour?”  When Jesus was on trial and he claimed that anyone on the side of truth would listen to him Pilate again looked for a way out with a question “what is truth?”  The Bible outlines countless stories describing our powerful need to find a way out of the practical implications of our faith.  As Tom Smith said, “we create new language, new systems, new programs, so that we can talk longer and more intelligently about what we have no intention of actually doing.” [1]  The task of true religion is to wade through the wreckage of the fall and recover the image of God from inside the rumble. This work is quite specific.  It is tied to a time; the time is now.  It is tied to a place; the place is here.  Here in the rumble: in your life, in your family, in your neighbour’s lives (you know the people on either side of you), on your street, in your town or city in your school, in your office, with your co-workers.  Wade into the rumble and ask God “what is the good news?” 

I am grateful to work for a church that, on a national scale, finds itself with some pretty specific local tasks to do. “Can you make a sandwich?” is Kim Reid’s famous answer to the question of what weapons the church has against the overwhelming needs of the world around us.  That is literally where he starts.  Kids in his neighbourhood go to school hungry everyday.  So he and a few others at church make food for them and deliver it to schools.  This actually works.  This is good news. 

“When all is said and done more will be said than done” is Al Doseger’s lament about church committee meetings.  He has a fully functional “trading post” in the basement of his church, now entirely run by ladies in the neighbourhood.  This actually works.  This is good news. 

Bike Rides are the Garst family’s way into the lives of the broken home lives of their neighbours.  Every week they invite the neighbourhood kids on a family bike ride.  Parents love it and have started opening up to the Garst family.  This actually works.  This is good news. 

“Street Church”, food banks, clothing exchange, jam nights and 100 other things make up New Heights’ weapon against suffering in Mission, BC.  It didn’t happen overnight either.  Years of wading through the local rumble have led them to make powerful and deep connections in the community.  This actually works.  This is good news. 

The church in Kemptville has been systematically wading into the rumble and have asked “what is the good news?”  Promising leads.  Hope for the future. 

Big things depend on these kinds of small acts.  This actually works.  This is good news.

[1] Tom Smith at http://kleipotgemeente.typepad.com/soulgardeners/

Rev. Jared Siebert is the Director of Growth Ministries for The Free Methodist Church in Canada