The Methodist Way of Life - Commitment 7: We will help people in our communities and beyond
by Rev Jacky Quarmby 17 June 2022
A commitment to serving or helping the people in our local communities and beyond, has always been an essential part of Methodism. Examples of this range from Methodism’s involvement in the abolition of slavery in John Wesley’s day through to the hundreds of foodbanks, night shelters and community centres run by Methodist people today, often located in Methodist buildings around the country.
In the gospels, Jesus models a life of service to his fellow human beings and urges us to do the same. In Luke 10: 27, Jesus says “Love your neighbour as you love yourself,” and goes on to tell the parable of the Good Samaritan to demonstrate to his listeners that “loving your neighbour” means more than just loving family, friends or the people next door – it also means loving the stranger and the outcast, if they are in need.
The Sant’ Egidio Community in Barcelona was established after a visit to Rome by its founders, during which they met the Sant’ Egidio Community there and were struck by the simplicity of their lives and their commitment to prayer, the poor and peace. Upon deciding to set up their own community, they had a clear idea how prayer might function as a core practice in their community and some views about how to strive for and practise peace. They soon realised, however, that they didn’t really know anyone who was poor. As a result, they went out of their way to meet with, sit with and listen to some of the poorest people living in and around the city. Rather than plan a project for ‘the poor’, they sought to listen first, to get alongside, and to act out of a spirit of partnership and relationship.
We are sometimes guilty as churches of planning things for people in our community that we think they might like, without taking the time to listen and find out whether there is actually a need for such a project. We are then disappointed, when nobody turns up.
As we move forward as a church and consider how we can help and serve our community in the months to come, getting to know our neighbours and listening to their concerns and their hopes will be essential. Chatting to neighbours, talking to business owners, acting as a Governor in a local school, volunteering in the community library, even just reading the local newspapers can give us a valuable insight into the concerns and issues affecting our local community. So let’s keep our ears to the ground – so that we can begin to discern how we can follow Jesus’ command to love our neighbour as we love ourself.
Song: Brother, sister let me serve you
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We pray for our communities -
those people of all ages, backgrounds,
education, politics and religious viewpoint
who are our neighbours in the streets where we live.
We pray for all of them;
not only those we know by name and chat to through the day,
but also less familiar faces about whom we know so little
and pass by with just a smile.
Bless their homes and families,
and let your love and peace
so shine within this community
that smiles turn to conversations,
and strangers become friends.
For we ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen