Join us as we gather for a time of community prayer on Thursday, May 3. There are two times you may choose from- or attend both!
Thursday at 11:45 AM we’ll meet at the Byron Recreation Center on 76th St. for prayer, followed by at casual lunch of hotdogs and chips.
At 6:30 PM we’ll meet at 2nd Byron CRC on 76th St. to pray, following much the same format as at Noon. We’ll have a time of fellowship and refreshments after the prayer service.
Come, let’s lift our thanksgiving, praises, requests and concerns before our Holy Father, seeking His favor.
Genesis 1: 27 states that God created man and woman in His image. This tells me that we’re all created equal. Interestingly, God designed diversity via skin color and language, as He values creativity and no one person or group of persons is favored over another. James 2 warns us against showing favoritism, as we’re to “love your neighbor as yourself.”
Candidly, how do we practically live this command out in Byron Center, one of the least diverse communities in West Michigan? Granted, there’s slight diversity in socio-economic groups, but we lack diversity in any other way. How can we be found faithful in not showing favoritism and how can we fully understand the statement that “we’re all created in His image” when we live so homogeneously? Still further, how can we sincerely and yet intentionally create relationships of any depth and meaning with those who are different from us if “this” is where we live and work and attend school? Assuming you attend one of the local churches, look around your congregation this next week. Flip through your church directory. How reflective is it of what Heaven will look like? Of how God created Earth to look like?
Some of us might respond with, “But my Small Group delivers meals to the homeless in downtown Grand Rapids and we’ve had a couple of conversations with those people.” Still others might say, “I’m cordial to the Muslim/African American/Eastern Indian/Etc. clerk at the gas station.” Do we see these people the same as we see our neighbors? Do we see them as being made in the image of God?
Granted, we can’t help where we’ve been born and as we sit in our predominantly all white, middle class churches, we didn’t select our church based on that fact alone. It just happens because Byron Center is more rural and ….well, what else may have discouraged diversity? Please know, this post isn’t written with the intent to accuse or to make one feel guilty. It is written with the wonderings of “How do we individually and collectively live out the command to see men and women of all colors, beliefs, and ethnicities as created in His image; not showing favoritism, when my interactions are with people who look and live very much like me?” Can I dare ask myself, “What am I doing to increase my understanding of those who are different from me and my family? When I interact with someone different from me, what do I first experience– fear? Curiosity? Anger? Sympathy? Why do I feel the way I do and how can I change that so I feel friendship and warmth?” Evaluate honestly. Then, if you see a mis-match, what’s a possible solution? What might you consider actually doing to change this?
Let us love as Christ loves His church– with authenticity and intentionality. It sounds simple enough until we toss in reality.
In our Western culture we pride ourselves in being independent and “getting it done.” Inner strength is admired and everyone knows we strive to raise our children to become self sufficient. Those who call for help are too often viewed as lightweights. We aim to be private. We manage our situations and our emotions and our needs. We nod our heads in agreement when we say we need community and yet, we isolate ourselves. When life is smooth and easy we’re eager to share the good. When life gets bumpy and messy and difficult, we cocoon ourselves. We don’t show a need for support or advice.
Jesus calls us to a different perspective. He calls us to love one another and that requires us to be actively involved in another’s bumps and mess and difficulties. It means we assist in carrying the weight of the hard times. It calls for inconvenience and self sacrifice. The Apostle Paul loved people well. He modeled what it means to be involved in their lives and to pray with them and pray for them and putting aside his own wants and petty issues, placing others above himself.
Col. 1: 9- 12 states, “For this reason , since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding. And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way; bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and joyfully giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light.”
Imagine having your friends and community folks praying this Scripture for you- seeking God’s richest blessings upon you. Imagine YOURSELF praying this for the people in your circle. This is what we’re called to do, actually. To share. To pray for each other. To love.
Who can you pray for? Who might you ask to pray with you? Risk being vulnerable. Sometimes that’s what love looks like.
Byron Community Ministries is a 501- C3 Charitable organization. Consequently, we are able to provide a tax deductible receipt for any financial gifts given to us. It’s not too late to consider us for your 2017 year end gift giving!
We have a lot happening here and strive to stretch our dollars to maximize their effectiveness throughout our community. If ever you’d like a tour of our facility or be interested in a thorough explanation of how we serve Byron Center, please know you’re welcome to stop by (we’re closed Fridays) or call us at 878- 6000. We love to tell about what we’re doing! And we anticipate yet more good work to be done, all made into reality through the generous donations given to us by people just like you.
Thank you in advance for partnering with us to make Byron Center the community it is! Happy New Year!
Last week an older gentleman who frequently stops by to “shoot the breeze” came into our building. As usual, he came into the Director’s office and sat down with a pleasant smile on his face. He proceeded to talk about his activities since the last time he’d come by. You know, grandchildren, church, his favorite TV show, and preparing for winter. Not too long into the conversation he became much more serious and said, “I have something I’ve been wanting to tell you now for quite some time. Let me explain.” He then grew very serious and tears gathered in his eyes. I listened, waiting for what might follow. He shared how two decades ago he spent twelve years in prison- that he deeply regrets what took place and he exited the prison a changed man. He continued by saying, “I wanted to let you know about this, because I want to be the person I think you think I am.” Pausing, only because I was to taken aback by his candidness, I replied, “You just made yourself extremely vulnerable. You didn’t have to do that. Thank you for trusting me.” He rose up, wiped a tear, and said, “That just feels better.”
We’re grateful for the opportunity to minister to a multitude of needs at Byron Ministries. We never know who is walking in the door or what they’re confronting, but we try to live out the saying of, “No judgment here.” At least for that good man and on that particular day, we succeeded.