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March 17, 2015, 10:40 AM

Lenten Reflection


Happy are they who consider the poor and needy! ~ Psalm 41:1

As we move through Lent towards our Diocesan convention theme: "Three Persons: One God - Three Streams: One Church," I see some insights from our scripture readings for today that show how the three persons of the Trinity and the streams of the church compliment each other in unity. In Hebrews we hear: "For the one who sanctifies and those who are sanctified all have one Father." In the Gospel of John we have Jesus miraculously turning water into wine, perhaps foreshadowing its sacramental overtones; at a wedding no less! But primarily in considering these themes my thoughts go back to the Emerging Leaders in Healing conference that was held at our CTK Spiritual Life Center around 2005. I remember Francis MacNutt at that conference talking about the three types of churches we are exploring as three themes - Evangelical churches that emphasize Holy scripture, Catholic churches that emphasize the sacraments, and Pentecostal/ Charismatic churches that emphasize the work of the Holy Spirit. In his talk, Francis added a fourth stream - churches that emphasize helping the poor. These are churches that are built around social justice type of concerns as their primary emphasis - clothing the naked, feeding the hungry, and healing the sick.

But there are only three members of the Trinity, so where might we map the helping the poor stream? While recognizing the inadequacy of any Trinitarian model that seeks to isolate the persons of the Trinity, such a mapping might be useful in gaining understanding. If perhaps we consider the Holy Spirit is the main patron of Charismatic Churches, Jesus the focus of the sacramental stream, and the Father the main driver for Evangelicals, where would we put the social justice stream? My view is that all three contribute to this stream as a destination - the goal, the direction to which they strive. As Jesus tells us in his Manifesto:

The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord (Holy Spirit) is on me, because the Lord (Father) has anointed me (Jesus)to proclaim good news to the poor. (The Mission) Isaiah 61:1

Helping the poor is the destination as the Source - the Father, moves through His Son - Jesus, by the Power of the Holy Spirit! The streams cannot fulfill their calling without moving with each other, and none of them fulfill their purpose unless their destination is helping the poor, healing the sick, setting the captives free. Helping the poor is not so much the way they move, or the source from which they draw power, but rather the consummation of their ministry.

I remember at the end of his talk during the conference someone asked Francis what to call that group that likes to help the poor. "We have the Evangelicals that love Scripture, the Sacramental Churches that love the sacraments, and the Charismatics that love the Holy Spirit. What do you call these people that are driven to help the poor?" "I call them Christians" said Francis. Amen! And this Lent and beyond may we move in an Evangelical, Sacramental, Spirit Filled Church that binds up the broken hearted, sets the captives free, and preaches good news to the poor. May the river of Jesus flow from its source in our Father, by the water of the Spirit to the destination of Social Justice: nothing short of transformation of our world into the New Creation! In Jesus Name! Blessed be the LORD God of Israel, from age to age. Amen. Amen. Psalm 41:13

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