I'm certain that I am not the only one who feels horrified, confused, dismayed by the tragedy in Ferguson, MO. Though I really don't have the full picture in mind of what really happened, (does anyone, really?) my heart cries out to God on behalf of all parties effected. Prayer is the first thing that we all should turn to, especially those of us that have no way of changing the circumstances...no way of getting involved directly. God hears our prayers, the prayers of those who say, Lord...what can we do?

Do you feel that way, too? Like you are helpless to make things better, helpless to be an ambassador of peace and mercy in a town that could honestly be any town in the middle of the United States of America.

Church! RISE UP! Ferguson is your backyard and my backyard.

What would happen if the church took it's place as the light on the hill in every town and city. What would happen if God's people took responsibility in their own back yard in a radical way?

Would we prevent a Ferguson in our own backyards....

***I want to emphatically say that I have NO DOUBT that the local churches in the greater St. Louis area are and have been heavily involved in their communities. I have seen it first hand in that area.***

Church: that is the corporate and the individual. If you proclaim Jesus as your source of grace, forgiveness, mercy and abundant life, YOU are the Church. We come together as individuals to worship in unity, to hold each other accountable, to do life together, to be impactful in our world...our backyard.

As the Church, we have the God-given responsibility (yep, RESPONSIBILITY) to feed His sheep, build up His kingdom, be mercy to the forgotten, be grace to the unlovable. No entity can do this more effectively than those empowered corporately by the Holy Spirit of the VERY Living God.

To BE THE CHURCH means we put aside our schedules and agendas and all of our #firstworldproblems to reach out past our comfort zones to make a difference in our back yards...our communities.

To BE THE CHURCH means we reach deep into our pockets and give out of the overriding principal that everything we have, all that we own is GOD's to begin with.

To BE THE CHURCH means we pray hard, really hard, to ask God to love His people like He loves them. We pray that God will chisel away those guards we place around our heart that keeps us from doing the hard stuff--really loving and serving--out of worship. Yes, loving and serving is worship!

To BE THE CHURCH means we stop sitting in the pews on Sunday only giving a nod to what our local church is doing in the community. It means we keep ourselves from checking off excuse after excuse in our heads as to why we can't get up at 7am on a Saturday morning to paint a house or build a wheelchair ramp or stock the shelves of the food bank.

For when we take our place as THE CHURCH and step into our communities, our very own backyard, to be the change, to be the light to be JESUS, a ripple happens. That encouragement and monetary donation we took part in for a single mom might lead her to get back on her feet with dignity. Then, she is empowered to take that job and provide for her family in meaningful ways. That son of hers who was at risk because of their poverty, has a new path before him. Years later, he goes to college. He partakes in his own local church. He becomes a man and raises his own family who loves Jesus.

Who knows...your one moment of BEING THE CHURCH allowed God to work through you.

Yes, there is the benefit of "feeling good" about how you loved and served. Oh but how great it will be to hear Jesus say,

Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36 I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ 37 Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? 38 And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? 39 And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ 40 And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’ (Matthew 25:34-40)

So, today as we observe the latest reports out of Ferguson let us take Ferguson as our own community, backyard.

Let us BE THE CHURCH.