Dwelling in the World – Missional Practice

How do we Dwell in the World when we are sheltering in place?  To dwell in the world is to be sent out into the world and pay attention to what God is already doing in our community.  It involves building relationships and partnering with people already doing God’s work.  We call these people, people of peace.

Newton Presbytery held the Dwelling in the World workshop in Chester on Saturday, March 7th, just prior to everyone beginning the sheltering in place mandate.  We were all ready to be sent out into the world, when we were ordered to remain home.  We had made a list of the places in which the community gathers, such as the parks, local restaurants, sports fields, PTA meetings, when suddenly, all of these community gatherings halted to a sudden stop.

Did you know, God is still up to something in our neighborhoods?  Did you know, we can still find people of peace even while remaining at home?  Did you know, if we look hard enough, we can see where God is at work?

So, who and where are the people of peace during this pandemic?  The obvious answer is: our nurses, doctors, and medical staff at our local hospitals.  And it is amazing to see how some communities are partnering with our local heros by donating masks, making fabric masks, donating towards meals for hospital staff, and the various forms of appreciation by honking horns, or sending cards.

Other than the hospitals, people of peace are hard at work throughout our communities to ensure that people are being fed.  Restaurants are partnering with food pantries to provide meals for families.  In Roxbury, there are at least two restaurants delivering meals to local families in need.  When I called one of these establishments, I asked about sending a donation, to help offset the expenses.  The response was one that I did not expect:  “People keep giving us money, some it is a twenty, others ten, others it’s a fifty.  Just today, we have $5,000.00 designated to feed our local families.  We are overwhelmed with the love of this community.”  What a story!  This is not just Dwelling in the World, but this is Announcing the Kingdom of God.  God is at work in our communities, bringing people together to ensure that all have food during this crisis.

Another example of partnering alongside of people of peace is Table of Hope out of Morristown.  They have a mobile food pantry that is able to bring large amounts of food to various communities.  Table of Hope has been providing free bags of groceries to families in Parsippany, Dover, and Roxbury.  Being a part of this feeding outreach was another Kingdom of God moment in the midst of this pandemic.

Many of our congregations continue to partner with the agencies that they have already been a part of.  Soup Kitchens continue to provide meals “to-go”.  Food pantries continue to hand out much needed groceries.  These are places where we already have been Dwelling in the World, places where we have already partnered with people of peace, places that we know the Kingdom of God is at hand.  Here is a picture of Pastor Stefanie and Pastor Rich as they participate in providing a meal at Safe Harbor in Easton.

From their website:  Safe Harbor Easton is a program-driven, transitional shelter for homeless single men and women. It is also a drop-in program for low-income adults, particularly those who have difficulty with the tasks of daily life.

OUR MISSION: Safe Harbor Easton is dedicated to empowering and educating homeless men and women, and to helping them to achieve a better way of life. To that end, we provide safe, secure housing and case management for all clients. It is our mission to see that everyone who comes to us is given the means and opportunity to live a life of fulfillment and recovery.

Sometimes it takes a crisis to really find those people of peace, to awaken us to a clearer view of where God is already at work in our community.  I hope each of you are finding in your own communities where God is at work, who the people are in which to partner, and how to share the Kingdom of God as it breaks into this hurting world.  Please share your stories with Newton Presbytery:  [email protected]

Picture is of:  Rabbi Inna and Pastor Carie from the Roxbury Interfaith Clergy Council