In 2010, while reporting on the work of mission workers around the world for the Mennonite Mission Network, I came to know Isabella. Isabella recently had moved to Paris to attend a university. She was lonely for her home in the Caribbean when she discovered a welcoming congregation of believers in the Parisian neighborhood of Chatenay-Malabry. The demographics of this traditionally white, Christian, middle-aged, French community had changed dramatically in the past decade. Large immigrant populations had arrived from many other countries. With these many arrivals has come now-famous conflicts between native French and France’s 6.8 million immigrants.

Isabella’s new congregation, however, decided to make a difference in its neighborhood, opened its doors to immigrants, and began ministering to them. The congregation grew in membership as they helped new immigrants find jobs, homes, and assistance with the staggering array of government paperwork.

One of the first ways members of the church connected with the new members of their community was through sharing prayer needs. Prayers for housing and jobs or for sick or absent family members were simple concerns all church members could relate to. Reaching out in compassion and understanding was making these strangers into brothers and sisters in Christ.

Racism is, at its heart, greed—a fear that “we” will lose out if we accept “them.” In Luke 12:13-21 Jesus warns against greed. A rich man, with a crop so large his existing barns could not contain it, was focused on how to store even more. Think of all the people he could have helped with his wealth! But that was not his focus; his greed made him think only of himself. What good did all his wealth do him when the time of his death arrived?

We live in a world that is increasingly divided into “us” and “them.” When we give of ourselves to others, we embody the gospel and invite a blessing to both “us” and “them.”

Pray the Scriptures Using Audio Lectio
Read Luke 12:13-21

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Lectionary Week
July 29—August 4, 2019
Scripture Overview

Hosea relates a further message from God. Israel has repeatedly ignored God’s teachings, even though God continues to reach out with love and kindness. Although a just response would be wrath, God will respond instead with mercy to restore the people. The psalmist echoes this teaching about God’s enduring love. Although some have gone through periods of distress, when they call out to God, the Lord responds with steadfast love. We then explore guidance for the life of a Christian. In Colossians we read that we should focus on heavenly realities, not the physical world. Rather than pursuing our own pleasure, we should put on a new self and behave more like God desires. The parable that Jesus tells reinforces this point. We should focus on storing up heavenly treasures, not earthly ones.

Questions and Suggestions for Reflection

Read Hosea 11:1-11. How have you suffered the consequences of turning away from God? How has God welcomed you back?
Read Psalm 107:1-9, 43. What stories of God’s goodness does your family tell to the next generations?
Read Colossians 3:1-11. How has Christ renewed you? How do you see Christ in others?
Read Luke 12:13-21. How has greed shown up in your life—as racism, wealth-mongering, or myths of scarcity? How do you combat greed in all its forms to live out of a mentality of abundance?

Respond by posting a prayer.

I join many of those who will pray for you as you seek to discern what you are called to be at this moment. May God grant you the courage to fulfill that calling. May we all open our eyes and see the misery, open our ears and hear the cries of God’s people, and, like God through the Lord Jesus Christ, be incarnate amongst them.” 

View a growing list of resources for the spiritual work of overcoming racism.