Expected Peace

19 Jan

Expected Peace

Monday, February 7, 2011

By: Zac Harmon-McLaughlin

 

The other day I went around to the local businesses around our Church here in Orange, California. The purpose of my visit was to take home made cookies that people in our congregation had made specifically for them. The whole month of January our Congregation in our “Growing and Sharing Together” (Sunday School) time had been focusing on the enduring principle of the Community of Christ, “blessings of community.” The culmination of our study was our community service that would lead us to reach out in thanks and support toward our local businesses.

 

We chose businesses because we are on a really busy street right across from a strip-mall. We aren’t in a little local neighborhood like some congregations, however, we still reach out to our local neighbors and people that live close, but by giving to our local business we were supporting those who support our community. Our plan was to give gift baskets of cookies and a home made card to let our shops know that we are thinking of them and support them. We also wanted to let them know that we pray every Tuesday morning at 7:00am for peace in our community and that they are a part of that prayer and more than welcome to join us in it.

 

Here’s the good part! I got so many different reactions. It was a beautiful experience and experiment in community. Some people were so thankful and gracious that our church would think of them and reach out in solidarity and support. In fact one lady exclaimed to me that, “This is what churches are supposed to be doing, building communities!” Upon her proclamation a customer in her store agreed and let me know that my church was doing a great thing, however, he wanted me to know that we were forgetting the milk. Then there were others who were really happy and excited that I stopped by, but desperately didn’t want the cookies because they were dieting or diabetic. It was ok though because I would just enjoy a good conversation and tell them about our church. One store did not want anything to do with my cookies or me. The lady behind the counter said I was too late with cookies, the girl scouts had already stopped by and that she was not interested in buying anything from me. I laughed and let her know they were free and yet she stilled didn’t want them. I began to ask if she would want to give them to anyone else or share them with her customers or anything. She finally accepted with a smile and a relationship was born. Most people wanted to give me the basket back. They didn’t understand that this was an act of kindness, respect, compassion, and simple love. There was no agenda, no goal, it was just a recognition of our sacred community. People seemed to be caught off guard at an act of kindness. I found that to be so sad. People just don’t expect others to give freely and kindly.

 

What was most profound was that most of these shops had no idea that there was a church across the street. Our church is literally across the street from a strip-mall. It is literally next door to three businesses. The Orange Community of Christ Building has been here since the late 60’s. None of these shops knew that we even existed or what our mission is or who we are! Our Mission as a World-Wide church is simple. To proclaim Jesus Christ and to CREATE COMMUNITIES of joy, hope, love, and peace.

 

Our churches are sitting in neighborhoods not making neighbors. We are in places that are exploding with potential to create community, yet we seem to be content with Sunday morning worship only?

 

It is time that we become the church and I mean no longer DO church but BE church. There is no reason that I should ever have to visit one of these stores again and see the employees or owners flabbergasted because the church next door would want to do something kind for them without expectation of them converting to our faith. I want to be the church that is in the midst of its community and on the forefront of the community when it comes to support, nourishment, compassion, feeding the hungry and homeless, kindness, and peace. I don’t want to be known for our amazing worships, I want to be known for our profound service. I don’t want people to ask what our church believes; I want them to see what we believe, just as Jesus taught.

 

We still have much work to do to create communities of joy, hope, love, and peace, but we are doing small things with great love and intention of peace. The Community of Christ isn’t called to be conventional church; we are called to become Communities of Christ. My prayer is that we are all able to begin to share with our communities in peace and no longer receive surprised faces because our communities will expect joy, hope, love and PEACE from us.

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