Each week, a member of the congregation is giving a reflection on a scripture that speaks to them about our Capital Campaign journey. Read them below, and check back each week for updates!
In New York City we are constantly telling ourselves and others that all will be well and mostly it is, but often it’s not. Will the train arrive, will you be laid off, will you get a part, will the teacher love your child, will your health improve, will you find affordable housing, will you have healthy food? At Metro it’s will the boiler blow, will the roof stay strong, will the stairs get easier, will we have the space for more service to the neighborhood? In the scripture passage from Isaiah 3:10 I’ve chosen for our first Call to Prayer during the Capital Campaign, we are told: “Tell the righteous it will be well with them, for they will enjoy the fruit of their deeds.” In another translation it says, “The righteous will be happy and things will go well for them. They will get to enjoy what they have worked for.” And finally, “Tell the godly that all will be well for them. They will enjoy the rich reward they have earned!”
I am claiming that passage for each of us and for the Metro Community as we take a big gulp and enter into these next weeks and months of opening our doors even wider in the years to come. I hope you’ll join me in daily prayer for all things Metro and RMM. There will be a weekly scripture and thoughts from different members of the congregation for the next 12 weeks and I encourage you to spend some time in prayer and meditation as we assure ourselves and our neighborhood that all will be well.
Now, one more scripture before we pray together the prayer that is printed in the bulletin which by the way was written in the 13th Century by Dame Julian of Norwich. Listen to these words from Deuteronomy 12:28, “Observe and hear and do all these words which I command you, that it may go well with you, and with your children after you forever, Do that which is good and right in the eyes of the LORD your God.”
Let’s pray together:
In you, God Almighty, we have our preservation and our bliss.
In you, Christ, we have our restoring and our saving.
You are mother, brother and Savior.
In you, Holy Spirit, we have marvelous and plenteous grace.
You are our clothing.
In love, you wrap us and embrace us.
You are our maker, our Redeemer, our keeper.
Teach us to believe that by your grace all shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well. Amen
Extortion is rife, robbery is epidemic, the poor and needy are abused, outsiders are kicked around at will, with no access to justice.’ I looked for someone to stand up for me against all this, to repair the defenses of the city, to take a stand for me and stand in the gap to protect. Ezekiel 22:29-30a
My 24 years being a member of Metro and for the years before my arrival, I have been proud of the fact that we are a church that helps repair the city defenses, or as another versions states “the city wall” to protect, a church that takes a stand, that offers God’s grace and mercy, and stands in the gap seeking to lift up the food and financially insecure, those that have been ignored, or even worse, judged. I am proud that we were one of the very first congregations that publicly shared with our community that we are a sanctuary church, that persons living with or affected by HIV/AIDS are welcome. We have never ever even considered that there may be persons who are NOT welcome in our community of faith; for God’s love is inclusive, reckless and lavished on all of us. As we begin the Opening the Doors Wider campaign, we are reminded that this is our DNA. We are about welcoming, supporting, offering hope. This comes not from a sense of being “better than” or “more enlightened” than others, but springs from our celebration of each other – our similarities and our individual uniqueness as creations in God’s image; along with our steadfast belief that all people are created in God’s image, and are loved and valued by God; despite the messages society sends.
In football, the gaps are the spaces between the offensive linemen. Between Center and Guard, the A gap, Guard and Tackle, B gap, Tackle and Tight End, C gap, outside the Tight End D gap. The whole game is predicated on how the offensive line can protect the gaps in order for quarterback, runners and receivers do their job of advancing the ball against the mighty force of the defensive players.
For me this is a perfect example of what we are trying to accomplish. Our goal is to seek to stand in the gap to protect our community from all the harsh realities of injustice, economic disparity, and oppression of the most vulnerable.
On any given day you can find our doors at Metro/RMM opening to give hope to women who have experienced the joint trauma of abuse and homelessness; to military personnel who served their country, but found themselves forgotten when they came home; to families that need extra food resources to make it to the end of the month; to people in need of a warm coat and clothing to survive New York winters; to homeless persons wanting snacks and toiletries; to children and teens needing support along their educational and social/emotional journeys; to artists seeking a forum to share their gifts and talents. While this list is long, it is certainly not an exhaustive listing of the many ways Metro/RMM ministers and serves in this community of Hell’s Kitchen.
If you have ever spent much time in the building, you know of its limitations, and the very essential need to repair and rebuild in order to continue being a voice for the voiceless in our community. Quite frankly, it is embarrassing that we are known for our caring work in the community, yet have physical obstacles that impede access for many of those whom we seek to serve(A big thank-you to former and present staff as well as Dan Henkel who have tried a long time to address this issue!). It is time for us to correct that, to sacrifice in whatever way God is leading so these obstacles are removed.
The Bible is full of pep talks. One of the most memorable being when Mordecai is urging Esther, his “adopted” daughter; now a queen, to take a stand, a life-risking stand, for justice for her people, the outsiders without a voice. He says to her, “And who knows that you have come to royal position for such a time as this”. We find ourselves, the Metro community, in “position for such a time as this”. God is urging us, calling us, to “take a stand” to ensure for future generations that the message of God’s love, God’s grace, God’s mercy will continue to emanate into this community, to the outsiders, through Metro Baptist Church and Rauschenbusch Metro Ministries. It is for us to sacrifice now so that the dream of the 1984 congregation realized into the present continues expansively into the future.
Barbara and I have talked and planned how we are going
to be a part of helping meet the building campaign goals. On its own, our contribution is not much, but
when joined with the sacrificial giving of each of you and that of the wider
community our prayer is that the financial goal will be reached enabling Metro to
repair and expand its physical walls, to widen its doors here at 410 West 40th
Street in order to continue to bridge the gap with God’s love and hope for
generations to come.
The idea is that Jesus was going to build the temple in 3 days, but he wasn’t speaking about the physical temple the Jews were talking about.
Now read 1 John 5:14-15. “And this is the boldness we have in him, that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have obtained the request made of him.”
The overall idea here is that God hears our prayers, “if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us”and “if we know he hears us, we’ve obtained the request we made.” So, our faith itself is the answer to our prayer. The temple officials thought Jesus was talking about the temple, the building, but Jesus was talking about a completely different temple, the temple of his body, so God answers prayers in ways that we don’t expect.
Will this Capital Campaign play out exactly as we hope? Who knows? God answers prayers in unexpected ways. But our prayers WILL be answered. They’ve already been answered. Our faith itself is the answer.