This Sunday, Andrew and Amy Fields, missionaries and friends of Grace joined us. Andrew brought the gospel and shared with us the story of a farmer named Naboth (1 Kings 21). Farming had been in Naboth's family for as long as they could remember. One day, Naboth's vineyard caught the eye of the scoundrel king, Ahab. Ahab coveted the land. But there was no price that Naboth would accept. Ahab became distraught and depressed, and so Queen Jezebel had Naboth killed. It's a tragic story, with many tragic modern parallels.
You don't have to think too hard to come up with examples of how the rich take advantage of the poor. Across the United States, uncontrolled rent displaces the poor and elderly. In the West Bank, Palestinians like Daoud Nassar are literally having their vineyards destroyed and confiscated by the powerful who refuse to accept that power and money cannot buy them everything. The story from 1 Kings 21 about Naboth is not simply a tale about what happened to one man long ago. It is a tale of critique about the way things work in the world today.
Casualties of gentrification at home or conflict in the Middle East may cause us to shake our heads in dismay, but they seem unalterable for us...at least this week. Andrew reminded us on Sunday that each of us has power that we frequently abuse in ways not so unlike Ahab and Jezebel. Bob said in a conversation to me recently, "any given day we may be on the wrong side of God's justice." Some of us may have literal power over employees, whom we too easily view as tools for accomplishment rather than people loved by God. Many of us have the set of powers that wealth affords us. Each of us has powers that we can use to promote the dignity and value of all people...or not.
One practice that I have tried practicing recently is making honest eye contact with people soliciting. It seems like a trivial thing, but a while back, it struck me that our full attention is one of the powers we all possesses. Who you give that attention to is significant. When people approach, asking for money, I've been trying to look them in the eye, smile, and then say honestly that I do not have cash or change I can give them. If I do have money on me, I tell them that I am not going to give them any money. Most of the time, I think they are surprised by my honesty, and that I give them my full attention. It is a small thing, but having intentionally practiced it for some time now, I'm finding it an impactful way of offering people the respect that they deserve. If nothing else, the practice reminds me that every human deserves my full attention. It has resulted in some conversations and some exchanges of kindness that are at least a start.
The world has plenty of Ahabs. Plenty of Jezebels. Steward your power well. See everyone.
- We pray for refugees. We lament that over 2,000 have lost their lives fleeing war and violence.
- We pray for those fleeing violence in our own city. We pray for leaders of integrity, honesty, and courage to set examples for our communities, and we pray that you would help us count ourselves among those leaders.
- We pray for Grace Chicago. We pray for the new leadership stepping into roles of Elder and Deacon. We pray that you would help us see opportunities to share the peace of Christ with a hurting world.
- We will have lunch together outside after church next week Sunday. Guests from General Synod will also be joining us. Check your weekly email for more information.
- Grace's new website is up and running! Check it out! Thanks to Kayla and others that made it happen.
- Hunger Walk is coming up! Please fill out this form and help us serve lunch on June 25th.
- If you're interested in joining a community group, now is a great time to do it. Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Tina made an announcement about the grief and loss group, which is trying to discern their next meeting time. Anyone interested in good company and open conversation around issues of grief can email email@example.com to find out more.
- Check out the events page for more!