Skip to main content

Things I Keep Meaning to Do

Franklin Lakes, the community where I serve, is a small and affluent city in Northern New Jersey. In 2005, the average income in Franklin Lakes was just above $144,000, and houses on average valued at $1.1 million.

About 7 miles from Franklin Lakes is the city of Paterson. Average income: under $35,000. Percentage of residents living in poverty: 24.1

Over half of Franklin Lakes residents have at least a Bachelor's Degree. 8% of Paterson residents have one.

90% of FL residents are white. 50% of Paterson residents are Latino, followed by 30% black.

Today, I traveled to Paterson for the first time to visit CUMAC-ECHO (Center of United Methodist Aid to the Community Ecumenically Concerned Helping Others). FLUMC is a frequent supporter of this social justice agency in Paterson. As a congregation, we collect food year-round for CUMAC's food pantry, and particularly we do so at Thanksgiving. We put together backpacks for school children over the summer for CUMAC. We just finished our Christmas toy campaign and delivered many items for presents for children in Paterson.

However, I hadn't yet been to Paterson, been to CUMAC, talked to the leadership there, etc. It's one of those things I keep meaning to do but putting off. I mentioned recently being inspired to reflect on how little time of my ministry is actually spent with people outside of my congregation. Very little time in my ministry is spent outside of my comfort zone. I like to challenge myself as I study the scripture and prepare my sermons. I like to challenge my congregation to see texts in a new way, to hear Christ's good news as something other than "believe in me and you'll get to heaven." I like to preach about the kingdom of God as something of which we can work for and be part of now.

Following through on the challenges I put out there? Doing what in my heart I know God is calling us to do? Somehow that usually ends up on The List of Things I Keep Meaning to Do.

I don't have to go very far to start responding to God's call. 7 miles away is a community that is in such stark contrast to the one I serve. Why is that? How can it be that there is such great disparity? How can we rest comfortably knowing that people are hungry in a 10-minute drive from our homes? How can a response to such need end up on a list of things we keep meaning to do but will never really do?


Clix said…
What would happen if you let your congregants know of your struggle, and challenged THEM to encourage YOU to respond to God's call in this way?

Just curious. :)
Meredith said…
Those are all great questions, and ones that I ask myself. I hate working in the church office by myself. I do a lot of work in town at Starbucks, which helps me see a totally different segment of the community. But it's still not a segment that is outside my comfort zone.

Thanks for the encouragement.

Popular posts from this blog

Sermon for Second Sunday in Advent, "Peace: All Is Calm, All Is Bright," Isaiah 11:1-10, Mark 13:24-37

Sermon 12/3/17 Mark 13:24-37, Isaiah 11:1-10 Peace: All Is Calm, All Is Bright             “Silent night, holy night. All is calm, all is bright. Round yon’ virgin mother and child. Holy infant, so tender and mild. Sleep in heavenly peace. Sleep in heavenly peace.”             This week, I read news stories about North Korea testing a missile that perhaps could reach across the whole of the United States.             This week, I spoke with a colleague in ministry who had, like all churches in our conference, received from our church insurance company information about how to respond in an active shooter situation. She was trying to figure out how to respond to anxious parishioners and yet not get caught up in spending all of their ministry time on creating safety plans.             This week, we’ve continued to hear stories from people who have experienced sexual assault and harassment, as the actions, sometimes over decades, of men in positions of power have been

Sermon for the First Sunday in Advent, "Hope: A Thrill of Hope," Mark 1:1-8

Sermon 11/26/17 Mark 1:1-8 Hope: A Thrill of Hope             Are you a pessimist or an optimist? Is the glass of life half empty, or half full? My mom and I have gone back and forth about this a bit over the years. She’s wildly optimistic about most things, and sometimes I would say her optimism, her hopefulness borders on the irrational. If the weather forecast says there’s a 70% chance of a snowstorm coming, my mom will focus very seriously on that 30% chance that it is going to be a nice day after all. I, meanwhile, will begin adjusting my travel plans and making a backup plan for the day. My mom says I’m a pessimist, but I would argue that I’m simply a realist , trying to prepare for the thing that is most likely to happen, whether I like that thing or not. My mom, however, says she doesn’t want to be disappointed twice, both by thinking something bad is going to happen, and then by having the bad thing actually happen. She’d rather be hopeful, and enjoy her state of

Sermon, "Invitational: Deep Waters," Luke 5:1-11

Sermon 1/31/16 Luke 5:1-11 Invitational: Deep Waters                         I’m fascinated by the fact that for all that we know, as much as we have discovered, for all of the world we humans feel like we have conquered, there are still so many that things that we don’t know and can’t control, so much that we are learning yet, every day. Even today, every year, scientists discover entirely new species of plants and animals. And one part of our world that is rich in things yet-to-be-discovered is in the mysterious fathoms below – the deep, deepest waters of the ocean. In 2015, for example, scientists discovered this Ceratioid anglerfish that lives in the nicknamed “midnight zone” of the ocean. It doesn’t look like other anglerfish – one news article described it as looking like a “rotting old shoe with spikes, a scraggly mustache and a big mouth with bad teeth. And it has a long, angular fishing pole-looking thing growing out of its head.” [1] Or there’s Greedo, named after