Sunday's Message: "Faith, Suffering, Peace"
For roughly two centuries American churches and denominations were prolific in starting schools and churches. This explosion of growth was a function of the westward expansion of the United States across the North American continent, resulting in the conversion of the American wilderness to agricultural,and industrial use, as well as metropolitan areas.
The Evangelical Covenant Church is no exception. A relatively small band of Swedish immigrants began a hospital and school on the far northern outskirts of Chicago. Today Swedish Covenant Hospital and North Park University exist because those immigrants believed their faith in Jesus had real consequence for the world around them.
In this week’s scripture reading a desperate woman seeks out Jesus. Jesus responds to her in three ways: he affirmed her faith, he freed her from her suffering, and he sent her into the world with peace.
Those churches and denominations that started hospitals and schools did so as an extension and expression of their faith in Jesus. They believed that Jesus commissioned them to Nurture Faith, Free the Suffering, and Inspire Peace those found them. They understood those hospitals and schools as an embodiment of that commission.
Today it isn’t logistically feasible for churches or denominations to start churches or schools from scratch they way they did 150 years ago. The times have changed, but that commission hasn’t. Jesus continues to call his people to Nurture Faith, Free the Suffering, and Inspire Peace those around us. The task before us is to create the most meaningful and significant means for Nurturing Faith, Freeing the Suffering, and Inspiring Peace in the world around us.