One of the dominant themes of all four gospel narratives is the persistent teaching of Jesus to his disciples that they are to serve other people. Jesus models this himself as he lays down his life for all people on the cross. Jesus says it about himself when he says: “…just as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Matt 20:28) And Jesus challenged his followers with specific teaching on servanthood in life when he said, “…it is not this way among you, but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant; and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be slave of all.…” (Matt 10:43-44)
This theme is not only prevalent in the gospels, but also throughout the remainder of Scripture. In the Old Testament, many of the prophets speak stern words of warning to Israel with regard to their call to serve the poor and lonely of the community around them. For example, Amos speaks pointedly about the mistake Israel makes if they think that the Lord is impressed that they gather for religious observances and festivals while the poor go hungry and unattended to around them:
“I hate, I despise your religious festivals;
your assemblies are a stench to me.
Even though you bring me burnt offerings and grain offerings,
I will not accept them.
Though you bring choice fellowship offerings,
I will have no regard for them.
Away with the noise of your songs!
I will not listen to the music of your harps.
But let justice roll on like a river,
righteousness like a never-failing stream!
There is no doubt, that the call of God upon his people is that they be a distinctive community of people, with the major distinction being that they are a community who serves the wider community around them. When the Kingdom is made real among a group of people the hungry are fed, the naked are clothed, the sick and imprisoned are visited and the captives are set free (Matt 25 & Isaiah 61) Good news is not just told, but embodied also.
At St. Andrew UMC, we want the Kingdom to be made real among us and within our community. We desire that good news be both told and embodied in this place and beyond it. To that end, we want to be a gathering of believers which is known for its relationship with and service within the community of which we are a part. Standing on the strong heritage of social holiness which is central to Methodist identity, we will do our best to be a strong presence of service in our local area and will embody a commitment to serving and being good neighbors.