Choo choo! Echoed in my head over night as I have made my journey from New Haven, Connecticut to Virginia. I could not miss the opportunity to celebrate Bishop William M. Philpot's 90th Birthday. He has been man of great integrity, a lover of Christ, a preacher of the gospel for more than 60 years; a 1953 graduate of Yale Divinity School, Spirit-filled church planter, Civil Rights activist, and a life-long student of the Word.
Before coming to Regent University, I spent a lot of time with Bishop Philpot; we did weekly rounds praying for the sick at Yale Hospital, advocated for better housing for the poor, preached and led Bible studies weekly in the New Haven Correctional Facility, reached out to help urban youth and more.
Oh, l must not forget to mention lunch with the bishop at the Yale Club. That was always a treat!
A train ride up and down the coast gives one a small but significant view of a side of life that one may not see often. The Autumn colors are beautiful in the uninhabited meadows. Then, there is the backside of crowded cities with abandoned cars and homes, graffiti on the back of old buildings and shanties that people actually live in, not to mention the tent cities that will surprise you if you don't expect to see them – yes there are people who live like this in the United States of America!
What a view from the backside!
Thoughts rushed through my head, wondering what life must be like back here. It occurred to me that I need to get out more. Or, perhaps, I need to open my eyes wider to see what life is really like for millions of people!
Jesus calls for us to pay attention to the hard life that others live and to pray with our hands extended just as much as we pray with our hands folded.
This week, be encouraged to move from your comfort zone, and take a ride on the other side. The other side is the life that you don't inhabit and you may forget exists.
How often do we:
Seek our own good?
Vote for what benefits us more than those who are hanging in the balance?
Fight for our rights at the expense of other peoples' wrongs?
Choo choo! The journey continues as Paul whispers in my spirit:
Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. Galatians 6:2
May we help carry other peoples' load, seeking their welfare, fighting for what helps them more than what helps us.
This must be what the apostle means when he instructs us to bear one another's burdens. Indeed, Christ was all about helping people on the proverbial "backside," the poor, disenfranchised, diseased, distressed, and abandoned.
Jesus locates Himself as one who cares about the least among us with the following words on the day he started his earthly ministry:
“'The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed,'" Luke 4:18
May the Spirit of the Lord empower us to proclaim good news and to do something about the suffering all around us.
With the Lord, we can do this!
Have a wonderful week as we consider life on the "backside!"
Grace & peace,