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By Ken Storey.

Richmond Friends of the Homeless feeds more than 3,000 meals each week to the hungry poor. Photo by Shawnee Hansen.

If you think you know the Lord’s Prayer, having memorized it from years of repetition in church, think again. Dr. Jim Somerville is leading a five-week study of the Lord’s Prayer that frames it as a mission statement. The sessions are in the Dining Hall following the weekly Wednesday night dinner and continue through May 25.

To help put the prayer into a new perspective Jim is using the original Greek wording of the prayer and explaining how the Greek words bring new understanding to the meaning Jesus intended. For example, the first Greek word actually means “paternity”; typically we use “Our Father” (Matthew 6:9f, KJV). The next words in Greek actually mean “who is not here”; for us, “which art in heaven.” As Jim explained, “Jesus did not teach His disciples this prayer with formal words like Yahweh; He wanted it to be informal. He used words that meant ‘Our Father’ and not ‘My Father,’ so that the prayer would have a meaning that brings us all into a community with God.”

He continued, “The Greek words that refer to ‘Hallowed be thy name,’ actually mean ‘you hallow the Lord’s name by your life, not with your lips; your actions create the hallow.’ What Jesus was trying to say was that your actions show the honor to God.”

When you say “Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done,” you should be thinking that you are taking a vow to do God’s work on earth. As Jim noted, “Jesus was saying, ‘Let me show you what it will be like when God’s kingdom is here as it is in heaven.’” He challenges us to catch Jesus’ vision of what the world would be like if we truly worked to make it be like it is in heaven. As Jim said, “If we truly caught that vision we would be unstoppable, because we would want it so badly. This prayer is like what a missionary would say before going to the mission field.”

Hope in the Cities sponsors the Richmond Unity Walk. Photo by Rob Lancaster.

In addition to the study, each week will focus on one person whose work is bringing the Kingdom of Heaven to Richmond. Shawnee Hansen (click here to see a video) spoke on April 27; her program, Richmond Friends of the Homeless, serves more than 3,000 meals a week to homeless and the hungry poor. May 4 featured Rob Corcoran, national director of Initiatives of Change and founder of Hope in the Cities, which works toward reconciliation and partnerships among racial, ethnic and religious groups. On May 11 Rabbi Jesse Gallop will share how some of our Jewish neighbors are bringing heaven to earth. Brad Nott of Crossover Ministry will speak on May 18. Crossover is one of FBC’s missional partners and provides medical care to the uninsured.

Ken Storey is a realtor with Hometown Realty. A member of FBC since 1989, he belongs to Foundations Sunday school class, is a deacon, and serves on the Communication Team. Ken and his wife, Laura, have four children ages 7 to16 – Stephen, Lydia, William, and David.

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By Bruce Leary. Photos by Win Grant.

As part of the Member Equipping Ministry Team, Bruce Leary greeted participants in the 2011 Ministry Fair on Sunday, February 6.

As part of the Member Equipping Ministry (MEM) Team, I recently found myself immersed in the preparation of the annual FBC Ministry Fair. This involved helping with the planning, setup and staffing for the event which hosted more than 60 ministry opportunities available to our congregation. The purpose is to inform, motivate, encourage, and help direct our church members to a meaningful place of service. After all, we are all called to be ministers.

After months of planning, the day of the Fair had arrived. My mind raced as I crossed the James River that morning. Had we thought of everything that needed to be done so we would be ready to open the doors? Had everyone completed their assigned tasks? Were our directions clear? Were there too many displays? Too few? Would all our effort be worth it?

It was 7:15 when I reached the corner of Sheppard and Maplewood Ave. It was a beautiful winter morning, with blue skies, bright sun, and a crisp nip in the air. As I paused at the stop sign, a figure on the corner caught my eye. She was middle aged although her tattered clothing and unkempt appearance made her look much older. Her hair was graying and the wrinkles in her face told a story of hard times and a tough life with few comforts. The struggles of life on the street had taken their toll. For just a moment we both were motionless, gazing across the street at each other as if we were looking at a photograph, or an image on a screen, each in our own world, I in my car, and she on the street corner, each safe in the familiar wrappings that defined who we were. The street was silent and empty. Then suddenly she motioned me to roll the window down. Didn’t she know that cars have power windows now? Then again, perhaps she didn’t! The silence was broken as she politely asked if I could spare a couple of dollars so she could get some coffee and something to eat. I nodded and waved her over to my car. As I drew a few dollars from my wallet, I turned to find a friendly face framed in the window of my car. Her name was Regina. Yes, her teeth were bad, her hair was a mess, and her black face was weathered and aged. But her eyes told a different story of someone who could love a stranger who was very different from herself, because she was first loved by the one who created us all. Regina took the money and then she took my hand. She thanked me, and then she asked if we could have a prayer. At that moment, God lifted all the barriers! He stripped away all those things that seem so important, but really only separate us from one another. There we were, on a cold winter morning, two of his children on an empty street in Richmond, Virginia – a homeless, penniless, street woman in donated, mismatched clothing, and an established, respected dentist in a three piece suit. Through moist eyes I offered a prayer for comfort, safety, food to eat, and for unmet needs for my new friend, Regina. She smiled, squeezed my hand, and asked God to bless me.

Pulling away from the corner, I quietly uttered another prayer thanking God for Regina and for the opportunity for two believers to come together in prayer and praise to the God who made them both. I glanced in my rear view mirror to see an empty street behind me. Regina had walked out of my life as quickly as she had entered it. I thought of the words of Hebrews 13:2: “Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some people have entertained angels without knowing it” (NIV).

As I slowly drove to church, I realized that ministry isn’t about fairs, displays, programs, and funding; it’s about people and relationships, and about sharing the love of God with everyone we meet. Thank you and God bless you, Regina.

Bruce and his wife, Debbie, have been members of FBC for 30 years. They have three children, Jeffrey, a former member of the Lamb’s class, and Allison and Brandon, both active as children and youths in Sunday school and Youth I and II. Bruce serves as a Deacon and as a teacher of the Next Step Sunday School class, and is active in the Walk to Emmaus ministry. He practices general and cosmetic dentistry in Midlothian and enjoys golf and fishing. He and Debbie are avid Florida Gator fans.

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