SEEK THE WELFARE OF THE CITY
with Rev. Rachel
7 SEEK THE WELFARE OF THE CITY - Jeremiah 29
A telling of Methodism’s story without using the words “housing”, “education”, or “employment”: No such thing. Wesley was a reformer and why Wesley set out to reform his Church had much to do with the condition of the masses in 18th century England, for whom houses, schools, and workplaces were a hot mess.
Early Methodists understood the interrelatedness of these arenas in a way that remains relevant if not convicting. In Richmond, Virginia 2016, it is The Office of Community Wealth Building making the case. “Housing, education, and economic development cannot easily be separated from one another.”
The Office of Community Wealth Building is working to help our city pursue a goal of reducing overall poverty by 40% and child poverty by 50% by 2030.
While it is easy to assume that no innovation is happening in or near City government, it is irresponsible to throw fuel on the fire of discontent from an uninvolved, do-not-want-to-be-involved distance. It may also be unbiblical.
Jeremiah prophesies to those who have every reason to see themselves apart from their city’s conditions. Babylon is not their problem. They did not ask to reside there. Y et the word from God for God’ s people is clear: Seek Babylon’ s well being. “Pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare (v.7).”
How it is with housing, education, and employment in our city matters. Try as we might to buffer ourselves from the effects of chronic poverty, it cannot undo God’s desire for us to work for the flourishing of all, and it, our self-securing, will not make a way for the one in four living in poverty to rise.
I am not accusing anyone of not caring. Heck, an analysis of my calendar this week would render me most guilty. I am inviting us to name how we are currently contributing to improvements in housing, education, and employment; and then to celebrate that, given how biblical it is to celebrate. [See Luke 15.]
I suppose I am also wondering aloud about becoming a friend to The Office of Community Wealth Building (or to an equivalent thereof where you are). Good company in the trenches may be hard to find, but it need not be hardly ever offered.