Entering Your Neighborhood

This post originally appeared in the Summer 2014 issue of "Alive Together" magazine.

As the scene opens in Luke chapter 10, Jesus is on the road with a large group of disciples making their way south from Galilee toward Jerusalem. He has a plan. He pulls together 72 from his band of travelers and he sends them out in small groups ahead of him, into the villages and towns into which he himself plans to go. It’s harvest season and Jesus sends the disciples into various communities as “guest workers” to enter into the life and rhythm of these “neighborhoods.” And as they share in the life of these communities, hearing the stories and folktales of the neighborhood as they serve together in the harvest, they learn what the joy of the place is, and what the pain of the place is. In the midst, and along the way, they give witness to the Kingdom of God—sharing, healing, and telling what it’s like to follow Jesus.

Jesus sent his followers to enter into the daily life of these neighborhoods and to serve in the harvest that he prepared for them. As for us, these are different times and different neighborhoods, but the plan is the same.

Jesus is still sending his people into neighborhoods near and far. In this month alone 12 deputees are being sent from our congregation to Cherepovets, Russia, Trinidad, Bolivia, Podgorica, Montenegro, and Bangalore, India. Justin, Renee, Autumn, Jack, Cassy, and Ethan are departing for a new life in Nicaragua. One of our families returns home to Asia to continue their translation work to bring the living Scriptures to the people of the Himalayas. Two new SCOPE Fellows leave for the next three months to continue and deepen the work of UPC’s partnership in Ethiopia to extend life-saving care and treatment to those affected by HIV/AIDS. The Union congregation continues to give witness to the Kingdom in South Lake Union, and is giving birth to a new community led by Mike Yonkers that will be planted in the Northgate neighborhood.

Each of these “neighborhoods” are distinctly different from one another, yet Jesus still invites us to participate with him in his sending into the “harvest”—the rich contexts of abundant life. We’re still invited to participate with him as a community who goes forth and enters into life with our neighbors, whether they’re across the street, across the city, or across the seas.

Summer in Seattle is such a wonderful time. The beauty of our city and the invitation of the weather draw all of Seattle out. It’s as if we re-emerge after a long winter’s hibernation. People putter around their yards, folks go for long walks, and friends have picnics and neighborhood barbecues. It’s harvest time—a time of abundance and fullness. We don’t have to travel halfway around the world to enter into the lives of people to whom Jesus sends us. Jesus sends us to the places we already are. Consider yourself sent and enter in. Have a great summer.

Ken Kierstead currently serves at the senior director/team lead to Outreach, but has worked at UPC in various capacities since 1984. He is a husband and father and enjoys snowboarding, American politics, and music.