Blog Post

Have You Heard? Jesus Fed the Multitude

Your new Associate Conference Minister, Rev. Dr. Celestine Fields

When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick. As evening approached, the disciples came to him and said, “This is a remote place, and it’s already getting late. Send the crowds away, so they can go to the villages and buy themselves some food and Jesus replied, “They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat.”

Twenty million dollars for a Superbowl advertisement and the Servant Foundation plans to spend another one billion dollars to advertise, “Jesus Gets Us.” Let’s discuss mission, outreach, and justice, and not the beliefs of those who are funding the campaign. We get it and we get them.

In our conference, we are creating a common language and a new way of doing racial justice. These can be beneficial whenever our churches want to do mission, outreach, and justice work with any population of people, especially LGBTQ, BIPOC, women, youth, those living with poverty, homelessness, or any issue, such as the divide in our country, which is related to these populations. We want our churches, clergy, and lay leaders to be intentional about this work and not jump to solidarity when relationship has not been built around respecting and affirming the experiences of those persons we are called to serve. When we don’t do the foundational work of relationship, we do more harm and waste valuable resources.

The Jesus Gets Us campaign is self-serving for the benefit of those who financed it. If they really wanted to send a message of a loving and accepting Jesus, they would have foregone the flashy ads. They could have used that money for building relationships and serving those who were used to further their agenda, whom they continue to reject as unworthy of God’s love.

The view from my office, Hobby Lobby.

There is such a need for relief in our country for the undocumented, indigenous people, Black and Brown people, the poor, our transgender siblings who are murdered on the streets and denied rights, women, children, those living with homelessness and poverty, the under employed, and those without healthcare. These are the people and issues at the heart of the division. What would Jesus do? He would walk among the people. He would listen to their stories, and he would act with compassion to alleviate their suffering. All of those millions of dollars, gone in less than two minutes!

Of course, we want people to know about the loving and accepting Jesus. The God with us Jesus. The Christ. The one who loved the unlovable. The one who fed the crowds that followed him. The one who challenged societal norms and cost him his life. The one that invites all of us to the table to feel his presence alive within us transforming us into a new creation, bringing the Kin-dom of God. But churches are closing. The conference and the UCC is concerned about the decline in the number of our churches. It’s not a set of data to analyze. It’s real. What are we going to do?

I sat in the new members’ class at Community Congregational Church in Benicia. Pastor Renie Kirk showed the old UCC advertisements that were banned from prime-time television during the God is Still Speaking campaign. In the video, Uniquely UCC , the narrator said, “Maybe there is a church that reaches out to their neighbors and community with one goal in mind.” She talked about listening and talking to one another, and discussing how to invest time and money. Yes!

Jesus did the work with the people, as he walked among them. We don’t do the work of justice, outreach, evangelism, and mission in a bubble to serve our own needs and agenda throwing money at it. It’s in relationship with those we are called to serve, asking them, “What do you want and need?” I believe if we, the Church, the body of Christ, focused on the work of alleviating today’s suffering, we could transform our communities and the world, and there would be no need for flashy Super Bowl Jesus ads and marketing campaigns. Let’s just be the Church.


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