May 31, 2011

"The Power of Place"

The word is "place," not "space," not "race," not "chase," all good words in their own right, but I'm talking about "place." "Place." I'm talking about the lunch room cafeteria in school and you come through the line looking for someone, anyone who will make eye contact with you, who will smile and perhaps scoot over, gesture to you and say, "Hey, sit here with us. Here's a place for you." I'm talking about "place." I'm talking about a young, single mother of three children with tears in her eyes who never thought home ownership would ever be possible for her, standing outside a new house, a ribbon being cut and a representative of Habitat for Humanity handing her the keys and saying, "Congratulations, this is now your place!" I'm talking about "place." I'm talking about a dream that my wife, Marian, and I have on a regular basis. We have gratefully lived in homes provided to us by generous people in generous churches for over 25 years, but I tell you the truth, we cannot wait for the day when we will finally have our own place! Our own place for me to track mud into. Our own place for me to let the grass get too high before I finally mow it. Our own place for me to forget about the bread and burn it in our own oven! I'm talking about "place!"

It's a beautiful word, a powerful word. Jesus knew this. He knew that on the occasion of his last supper with his closest friends, he needed to give them a word of hope, a word of promise, a word that could and would sustain them during his physical absence from them. He knew the perfect word, remember? "In my Father's house there are many dwelling places. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, so that where I am, there you may be also" (John 14:2-3). Jesus knew the perfect word for them and us! The word is "place."

I am so happy to share with you that on Thursday, April 28th, the leadership of this district took what many might consider to be bold and courageous action and purchased two pieces of property on Main Street in Hopkinsville that will serve as a new district mission center and as a new home for Corona de Vida, our District Hispanic Mission Congregation. For the first time since its birth over 7 years ago, Corona de Vida will have her own PLACE! As many of you know, the original goal when Corona de Vida began through the generous efforts of the St. John church family was for her to one day have a place of her own, and by God's grace, that day has come! The St. John church family has graciously provided space for Corona de Vida for more than double their original commitment to do so. As a district, we owe them a great debt of gratitude, but as you know, space is not the same as place. Corona de Vida will now have her own place--thanks be to God!

Our hope as a district will be to continue to support and encourage our pastor, Dr. Isabel Soberal, and the Corona de Vida congregation so that they might continue to grow and reach out more and more to our Hispanic sisters and brothers in the Hopkinsville area and beyond. None of us knows what this new location might mean for the growth and strength of Corona de Vida, but we do believe that God is leading in this direction and we trust the growth that can be to God's grace alone.

I cannot tell you how excited I am about this new ministry venture for our district. I want to thank our District Trustees, our District Board of Church Location and Building, members of our District Hispanic Ministry Team and members of our District Leadership Team who offered their strong affirmation and support for us to seize this opportunity for ministry expansion in our district. I give God thanks for their willingness to step out on faith in this way! In the weeks and months ahead, you will receive more information on how you and your congregation can assist with these new efforts. Corona de Vida and the new District Mission Center will need all of us in order for our witness for Christ to be as strong as it can be.

For now, I join with you in celebrating and praying that this new place for Corona de Vida will soon become a place for many, many others who do not yet know the transforming, redemptive, loving presence of the Risen Christ in their lives.

Grace and Peace!
Dr. Jay

This article originally appeared in "The Spirit," the Madisonville District's monthly newsletter.