A MOMENT FOR MISSION
"Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of services, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who activates all of them in everyone." 1 Corinthians 12:4-5, NRSV
Paul told the church at Corinth they should rejoice in the different gifts each of them brought to the community.
Human Relations Day is a time to celebrate spiritual gifts nurtured around the world. The special offering today helps people find and share their gifts.
The offerings have matched adults with children whose parents are in prison. This happens through a program called "Amachi," a Nigerian Ibo word that means, "Who knows but what God has brought us through this child?"
Bill West, an Amachi volunteer in Denver, said he became big brother to A.J. as a way to change a trend in which 70 percent of children of incarcerated parents later go to prison.
"A.J. is bright; he excels in school studies and has a supportive family," said West. "I quickly learned that my first challenge would be to help A.J. develop goals for his future. To work on this challenge, I knew I had to gain A.J.'s respect and confidence." In January 2012, West and A.J. started going on two-hour outings once a week.
The Human Relations Day offering introduced Amachi into 17 urban areas. It would be difficult to measure how many potentially troubled youth have refused to follow their parents to prison because of the program.
"We must do something to help. Amachi is an excellent opportunity for people of faith to get involved," West said.
Giver of life, we receive so many blessings and return only a fraction to aid your children around the world. On this Human Relations Day, we give to enrich lives of children through healing and restoring ministries. Amen.
From Discipleship Ministries: Second Sunday after the Epiphany - O Lord our God, how precious is each person you created in your image! We could never give an accounting of the true worth of a human being. You alone know how highly you value every person, for the price of redeeming the world cost the life of your Son. Help us to be people who restore relationships. Use us and our offerings to fulfill the mission of your church. We pray in the name of Christ our king. Amen. (Isaiah 62:1-5)
Jesus tells us that when we provide food, water, housing, clothing and medical care for strangers, we do it for him. He also said that those who visit others in prison care for him (Matthew 25).
The listing is not a multiple-choice selection. God asks – no, expects – us to engage in all of these ministries.
Jesus warns, "Truly I tell you, just as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me."
If we cannot engage in these ministries ourselves, we can provide financial support for those who can.
Today we will receive the Human Relations Day offering, an opportunity to support people who engage in the ministries cited in Matthew 25.
The offering, received the Sunday before the birthday celebration of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., restores relationships through ministries like Youth Offender Rehabilitation, Community Developers self-improvement programs and United Methodist Voluntary Services community- advocacy projects.
Please give generously. Through Human Relations Day, we help to fulfill Jesus' commandments.