Moment for Mission
"Now the Lord came and stood there, calling as before, 'Samuel! Samuel!' And Samuel said, 'Speak to me, for your servant is listening.'" – 1 Samuel 3:10, NRSV
This Sunday is Human Relations Day, one of the six Special Sundays for The United Methodist Church. On this day, we take an offering across the denomination.
It is no mistake that Human Relations day is near the day we honor the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. King heard the call of God to do the holy work of liberating people. His work against racism, oppression, poverty and violence disrupted layers of historic and systematic oppression of people. His commitment to working for the benefit of others mirrors our own efforts as the church to listen for the voice of Jesus who came to bring good news to the poor and set the oppressed free.
Our gifts on Human Relations Day allow the church to further the work of ministries that serve neighborhoods and communities through community development and advocacy. These are ministries that further the kind of work King strived to accomplish, not only working against racism and discrimination, but also against poverty and oppression.
Ministry that is done within a community is an investment in the future of that community. Supporting the work of community development means inspiring people to hear the voice of God calling them to use their God-given gifts and abilities in ways that benefit their own community. Our generous Human Relations Day offering makes this ministry possible.
God, Reconciler of Creation, open our ears that we may hear your voice when you call us to lift one another up through our gifts, our prayers, and our actions that we may be the church you are calling us to be. Amen.
From Discipleship Ministries: Second Sunday after the Epiphany (Human Relations Day–Special Offering) - God of wisdom, we are amazed that you know everything and understand everyone. Long ago, you established your plans to redeem the world from our sin. Your prophets prepared the way for Jesus, who lived as a teacher and healer, embodying your righteousness and grace. Help us to grow in maturity as disciples who follow Christ with trusting hearts. We dedicate these tithes and offerings for your work in our community of faith, through Jesus' name. Amen. (John 1:43-51)
The United Methodist Church will observe Human Relations Day on Jan. 14 this year. The Human Relations Day offering provides funding for ministries that are doing the work of community development, community advocacy and outreach to at-risk youth.
Ministry that is done from a community-development approach is not ministry that seeks to provide something for people; rather, it is ministry that seeks to empower people to find the gifts and strengths that exist within the community and then use those strengths to lift up local communities.
The work of building communities through community development and community advocacy seeks to move away from applying Band-Aids in the midst of poverty and racism and instead starts with the roots, building a firm foundation for strong and healthy communities.
Like Samuel, the church today must be prepared to listen for God's voice to move us to speak and act in the world. Our gifts on Human Relations Day allow the church to join in God's work of justice and liberation.