November 26, 2014
The assigned text in many Churches this past ‘Last Sunday in Pentecost’ was Matthew, Ch. 25: “When did you see me hungry, lonely, sick, naked, in prison….” It was the last teaching of Jesus to his Disciples prior to the Passion events. Perhaps this is why the passage is so significant, why it is placed where it is in the Gospel of Matthew, and why it speaks so directly to the emerging Church that would finds its birth on the “Day of Pentecost”. Our allegiance to it, our obedience to its commands, our profound abandonment of it are why the Church finds itself in a steep decline, why our young people could care less about ‘brick & mortar’ Churches. Their learning and study does not include “Church Doctrine, Dogma, Theology, nor ‘Our Pulpit is the ONLY Pulpit”, “our teachings are the only true and correct teachings”. They have witnessed our divisions, our fights and squabbles, the idol of ‘tradition’ to which we bow down. They don’t understand Pastors beyond a Pulpit. Too few Pastors understand too little beyond the empty first row of pews. There is no discipling , little spirituality, the ‘chosen 10% who give 90% of the money and 90% of the leadership that keeps these modern cathedrals still standing. No…… we don’t see the hungry, the lonely, the wounded and sick. We don’t see oppression, poverty, isolation. We don’t see the deterioration of families, the rise of single-parent families, the hoard of Grandparents who find themselves parents……again. So the generations beneath me are very hungry. They are hungry for God’s Word, His story. They want to know about personal spirituality, a personal Jesus. They want to make a difference in at least one other person’s life. They are hungry for intimacy, for friendships, for a real, close family that can be big enough to really provide meaningful support to one another and to some mission to which they feel led. HOWEVER, they also want to be small enough that they are not overwhelmed by loud screaming rock music overwhelmed by a band larger than Lawrence Welk’s old band. They don’t want to be ‘entertained’. They only want to feel God’s all-surrounding presence. Like I said, we are not seeing too well these days.
What I worry the most about are the grandchildren and great-grandchildren whom we do not see. They hide in the strangest of places. Some hide in the public schools. Others hide in a care-giver’s home — an Auntie, an Uncle, a mother, a grandmother, the house of a good friend. Some have significant personality disorders like acute depression. Some are already parents. Some are so wounded that they only find solace in cutting themselves from wrist to elbow, feeling the warmth of not a hug but the very blood that gives them life. Some have chronic learning disabilities that may well last them all their lives. Some are witnesses to horrible domestic violence — fueled by drugs and/or alcohol. Some build their moral code around the lyrics of rap/hip-hop ‘artists’ who feed them plates full of sexual lust, violence against others, racial prejudice directed away from them to any ‘out culture’ of the moment. These ‘artists’ define them by which ‘Smart Phone” they have to have, which pair of shoes buys them acceptance, Learning? Not! The public schools don’t want them, their families in many instances don’t want them. Other families don’t understand them. The future for them is ‘right now’. I’m “Okay” right now. I teach these kids math. The average grade level skills for my students is 4th grade. They can’t multiply 9 x 7 without a calculator.
At Lydia Urban Academy the day starts with the faculty of six who gather for morning prayer. We know our students well enough to be very specific about what we ask of the Lord. We know ourselves — our strengths and weaknesses, our gifts and our inadequacies well enough to ask the Holy Spirit to lead on this day. We know that as Ephesians 6 says, there is a spiritual battle going on in the heavenlies for our students and for us. We are on that front-line of the battle. Because our students are so vulnerable, because we as a faculty are so resolved, the attacks of the Enemy are unrelenting. So we always take time to count our blessings. “Does anyone have a ‘praise’ this morning? We must see God. We must see His work among our students. We must seize that moment when the Holy Spirit has moved in the life of a student in such an awesome way that that Student SEES God…..that Student ‘comes to believe that a power greater than himself/herself can restore them. We must SEE them. We must reach them. We must love them. We must teach them.
Stand with us. Pray with us. SEE our students. Support us.
We are not funded by the State of Illinois. We rely on your ability to ‘see us’ and help us make a difference for our students!
Dr. Bill Gerber
The Urban Outpost