Before dying, Rabbi Zusya said to his disciples, “In the coming world, they will not ask me: ‘Why were you not Moses? Why were you not David? Why were you not Abraham?’ No. In the world to come they will ask me: ‘Why were you not Zusya?’ ”
At the launch of a New Year, 2014, when we ask ourselves who and what we should be, and why we have not been what we should, we can learn from Rabbi Zusya.
For several decades our church and immediate geographical neighborhood has been in a severe change mode. Some have noticed it; many have not. Church members ask me occasionally “why can’t our church be more like White’s Chapel UMC (in Southlake) or more like FUMC, Mansfield?” Granted we used to be something like those churches—maybe better (?)—then. But now—we are much different. Now God calls us to respond to our neighborhood community and to offer the gospel as a “regional church” might offer the good news of Jesus Christ. We have not been “a suburban” church for twenty-five years or more and perhaps it is an act of faithfulness to notice.
To paraphrase a rabbi: “In the coming world, they will not ask FUMC of Arlington: ‘Why were you not Arbor Lawn UMC? Why were you not First UMC, Plano? Why were you not First UMC, Wichita Falls?’ No. In the world to come they will ask: ‘Why were you not FUMC of Arlington?’ ”
Thus I propose to our entire congregation, now that we are nearing the end of our street construction phase, that we recommit to the ministry strategy that Rev. Ken Diehm and I fashioned and adapted to our mission setting. We called it the One Mile Mission. May each significant group in our church (Sunday School classes, choirs, Bible studies, staff, prayer cells, OWLS, young adult ministry, ECYC teachers, or even a family unit, etc.) continue to advance one mission operation in Christ’s name within a one-mile radius of the altar cross in our sanctuary and do it this year as part of our annual mission outreach.
The proposed idea continues with a twofold purpose. First, the One Mile Mission introduces us to our neighbors and neighborhood. Second, the One Mile Mission introduces our neighbors and neighborhood to us. No group at FUMC of Arlington is too small or too large for a One Mile Mission project. Pray about our One Mile Mission!