I remember several years ago discussing the idea of incarnational ministry with a group of students. We were talking about how a church might better serve and share God’s love with a large group of Mexicans who played soccer nearby every Sunday. Entire families were making a day out of their soccer league play; there were children running around, women sitting and talking on blankets, and picnic lunches everywhere. An entire community was coming together each and every Sunday. After a dozen or so conventional ideas about inviting them to our “worship services” by posting signs or cooking a meal for them, we determined that all of these ideas would force these good folks to leave their group in order to become a part of ours. One individual suggested we play soccer with them. But someone else interjected that we could not ourselves miss “church” in order to do so.
Allow me to take a few (or many) liberties with Luke 14:1-6:
One Sunday, when Jesus was on his way to worship in a large church building with a well-known and respected community of believers, he was being carefully watched. On the way he happened upon a group of Mexicans playing soccer. Jesus asked the pastor and Sunday School teachers, “Am I allowed to be late to church — or even miss it altogether — to bring healing to this group of people?” But the religious leaders remained silent while checking their watches, cell phones, and day planners. So Jesus put on his cleats and kicked the ball around for a bit, as he shared the good news of the kingdom with his fellow footballers.
Then Jesus asked the preachers and pastors, “If one of you has a son in jail* or a friend who is sick on a Sunday at 10:00 am, will you not go pay his bail or take her to the hospital?” And they had nothing to say.
Just some thoughts. Yours?