Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Ministries of Mercy- Chapter 8 Review

The elders and deacons at my church asked the deacons and the deaconesses to read Ministries of Mercy, The Call of the Jericho Road, by Timothy J. Keller. As deaconesses we decided to read a chapter each month and to discuss that chapter at our monthly meeting. The book is broken into two main parts, the principles and practice of mercy. To save space and time I have included a review of the entire book here. As Christians we are called to be people whose lives are marked by mercy. We are commanded to show mercy to our family, our church, our neighborhood and our communities. We are most like Christ when we show mercy in little, in big and practical ways to those around us. This is much more than giving a homeless man along the side of the road some food to fill his belly.

We just started part two of the book, the practice of mercy. Chapter 8 is titled Getting Started. The previous chapters provided conviction and the spark to do more, but we all asked, "where do we start and how do we begin". I think all of us had our hearts pricked in some way in how we can get started. As deaconesses, there already is a heart of mercy within us. Mercy is the heart beat of our ministry.
The overview states, "Every Christian family must develop its own ministry of mercy by looking at the needs closest to it and meeting them through loving deeds and a spirit of encouragement".
The channels of mercy begin with your family, then the church, then Christian organizations and ending with the state. Our family is our ministry base, we must be taking care of our families first and then when things within our family is taken care of we can as a family reach deeper to our churches, neighbors and community. Within the church if we see a need, are are to try to meet that need ourselves, if we are unable to do that then we need to let the deacons know of the need (in some larger churches there are actual ministries with mercy as their focus). Keller says, "The number of needs near us, in our own personal 'circles of concern' are actually quite numerous, if we by open our eyes to see them".
Keller continues and asks the question,
Do you really stop, look, and listen in the middle of your church and
neighborhood? If you do, you will notice a multitude of needs. There is a
college student who has had to drop out of school for lack of funds. Over here
there are numbers of elderly folk without sufficient support from children, who
need transportation, friendship, and other aid. Turn in another direction and
listen hard. You will hear single parents, divorced and widowed people,
struggling financially and emotionally to be "both mother and father" to
children. They often don't seem all that poor and threadbare to the eye, but a
sensitive ear will hear the anguish.
Keller speaks of the fear that might build within us when we are faced with needs around us.

One of the reasons we do not "stop, look, and listen" is because we do know
how many needs there are out there, and we are afraid. Afraid of
what? There appear to be two major fears. First, we do not know how to make
contact; we are afraid of "breaking the ice." Second, we do not think we
have the resources to help; we are afraid of failure. Let's look at the
first fear. Many of us do not know how to approach another person who is
suffering. We know how difficult it is to ask for help or to admit weakness,
and we do not wish to embarrass or hurt the person further.

Can you actually create these contact? Absolutely. Here are some simple
suggestions. On the most basic level, you must have a general demeanor of
"neighborliness." Smiles, waves, facial expressions must be open and warm,
even (especially!) in chance meetings. Or, if you hardly know a person, develop your relationship through social gestures. By "social gestures" we mean efforts simply to demonstrate a desire to know the person better. . . The most basic social gesture is

One last quote that I enjoyed.

Christian ministers of mercy are unique in that they intentionally and systematically seek to build bridges with all the people around them at home, at work, and at church. They do this to discover needs and to create a climate in which others can share their weaknesses.


Shelly said...

Sorry for the way this post looks, I can not for the life of me to get it to do the indent quotes properly. This is one frustration I have with this program. I am all into how the finished product comes out.

Shelly said...

Hey Janet, how come you don't want to respond in Chinese? Everything is in English now as I post this comment. Not sure what was going on. Sorry though.