Of the countless Café conversations I have had at The Front Porch, there are a few that remain clear in my memory. One conversation that I often recall was with my father. We sat in the back of the corner of The Front Porch and I shared about my work and ministry.
In my sharing, I made some generic critique about the church not being active enough in service and the impact that ministry has had on developing my own faith. My father was quick to remind me that our salvation was faith-based, not work-based.
I recall laughing at this moment. Not in disagreement, but in an experienced knowing.
At South Street, I know that my (our) work will never suffice. There is simply not enough grace within me to forgive the 3rd or 4th relapse of a friend struggling in recovery. Within my own self, I cannot produce sufficient patience to long-suffer another semester of disrespectful and chaotic After School youth. And it seems almost daily, that my love is insufficient.
Just yesterday, a homeless friend visited the Café after being released from prison. He went from table to table looking to find some kind and unknowing patron to buy him food. We know this man well — this is his hustle.
I treated him to some coffee and we talked briefly, and I found myself to be impatient and apathetic. At South Street, I never worry about a works-based salvation. My works and my brotherly love consistently fall short.
But thanks be to God for the Advent of Jesus.
Thanks be to God for the reality of love made flesh some 2,000 years ago in Bethlehem. This child, born of a promise, would grow to eventually claim that apart from Him, we could do nothing.
The love of God sustains us as we minister. I know this to be true. Apart from God, my love, caring, and output simply falls short. But in Christ, a deep love is made manifest. Jesus delivers this message in the Garden of Gethsemane, the last command of his ministry, ‘Love each other.’
To know Jesus, is to know love. The fourth Sunday of Advent calls us to the Love of God in Christ. To remain in His love, abide in it, and minister from God’s abundant love. As we take a deep breath at South Street at the end of the year, we pause and remember what it is to abide in Christ’s love.
I will leave you with Jesus’ words found in John 15: 5-17.
“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.
“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. This is my command: Love each other.”
To become an unlikely partner in the work of South Street Ministries, click here.