Vol 3:32 Mission and Homelessness

In this season of Advent, we remember that God embraced our humanity in the midst of homelessness – Jesus being born in a stable; a stable which was not Joseph’s nor Mary’s – far away from their home in Nazareth. Also, during Jesus’ ministry he had no place to lay his head – he was an itinerant homeless rabbi dependent upon the hospitality of his disciples and friends.

For the congregation I serve, participating with God in God’s mission is all about asking questions about what God is doing in our midst. Of recent, we are asking God about the number of homeless persons God is connecting with us in worship, and in providing help. Over the past year, a person who is homeless has become a regular part of our worshiping community, another has not worshiped with us, but identifies us as his church because we are the only community that always embraces him. Others are also connecting with us and this “coincidence” is not just a matter of being compassionate, it is leading us to ask a particular question – “Lord, what do you want us to see, to hear, about our involvement with you in mission in your connecting homeless persons with us and your connecting us with homeless persons?”

It is such a question that keeps us discerning God’s mission in our midst. We do not begin by setting our own agenda for ministry – as in, we should all be involved in ministry to homeless, but rather, we are seeking and discerning God’s ministry agenda for us because of those God is bringing through our doors. Our being missionally-minded is helped by one of our values: our openness to see and hear God’s calling for our participation in mission through whom God leads to us – we will embrace whomever God brings through our doors.

This proclivity on our part to receive whomever God brings our way – is not shaped by whether such persons whom God invites fit our theological constructs, etc., but rather whether we are open to be shaped by the inviting hospitality of Jesus, of whomever Jesus seeks to invite. We find that in being missional in this way, we are being shaped and transformed as a community by God’s mission, rather than constraining God’s mission to our predetermined ministry paradigms.

And so, we find ourselves asking ourselves – what do you want us to see, to hear, and to do, by these homeless you are inviting into our community? It is leading us into a very different set of conversations, it is causing us to pray differently, and it is exciting us as to the opportunities God is leading us into. It is shaping our conversations as a church board, as a community, regarding how we need to openly accommodate ourselves to what God would have us do – it challenges us to become courageous in following the lead of the Spirit in our midst.

I am looking forward to see how a ministry among homeless, by becoming a community that embraces homeless persons, shapes us in our participating with God in God’s redemptive mission. We are learning to be on the cutting edge of ministry as we give preference for not our ministry agendas, but the missional agenda God is birthing and developing in our midst.

So, this Advent season, as we celebrate Jesus’ coming and anticipate his coming again, let us discover together how centering ourselves in Christ and his mission transforms us as we collaborate with God in God’s mission, by touching the lives of people God is leading us to, and being touched by those God is leading to us.

iMissional.org | Roland Kuhl