Monday, August 13, 2012

Back to School Fair: Hope, Works and Faith

James 2:14–17 (NASB95)
14 What use is it, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but he has no works? Can that faith save him? 15 If a brother or sister is without clothing and in need of daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and be filled,” and yet you do not give them what is necessary for their body, what use is that? 17 Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself.

Five hundred fifteen. That’s how many children were served in the North Side Baptist Church Back to School Fair this past weekend. Each of those children left North Side carrying a new back pack full of the supplies they would need to start school in a couple of  weeks. They received vouchers for vaccinations, vouchers for haircuts and they had their eyes examined. They got to meet McGruff the Crime Dog and hang out with some real life bikers who showed up to represent Bikers Against Child Abuse. There were also learning opportunities. Participants learned about dental hygiene and how to use the 911 emergency telephone system. I learned something as well. I learned something about hope. You see, I made a point of beginning at the back of the line and following it all the way to its end. I wanted to get a sense of the experience that was the North Side Back to School Fair.  As I made my way to the front I was struck by the number of people we can fit in our hallways. Every hall, every nook and cranny, every twist and turn that is the North Side campus was filled to overflowing with children and their families. And the hope – the sense of hope that I saw on their faces was unmistakable. Despite lining up outside long before the event began – despite waiting in long lines to get to the school supplies – not one person complained. As I tried to wrap my mind around the gratitude these folks had for the small gift they would receive it dawned on me that the hope I was seeing was not in the expectation of having a need met. It was hope born of the promise of a brighter future. It was the hope that can only be found in the expectation that maybe, just maybe our children will do things better than we did. North Side wasn’t handing out backpacks and school supplies. The body of Christ was administering the salve of hope upon the wounds of God’s beloved humanity. This is why Paul said in Ephesians 2:10 “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared for us to do.” And it’s why James tell us that faith without works is dead. It’s also why every single North Side member simply must plug in and work in one of the many local missions opportunities God has “preordained” as Paul writes.

So let me leave you with something. North Side is going to have another Back to School Fair next year. Plan on serving. In the meantime, August 20-23 will provide you with another opportunity to join the body of Christ in dealing in hope. That’s when North Siders will prepare meals for the Center of Hope and will serve the friends and neighbors in our community who are just a little less fortunate than the rest of us. It will give you the perfect opportunity to see hope in action and to grasp the connection between faith and works.

Devotional Archive