Jesus answered them, “Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor have good news brought to them."
By the Rev. Robin Hinkle, Associate for Mission & Outreach
During the season of Advent, we spend a lot of time learning about the ministry of John the Baptist. He is such a major part of the coming of Jesus, the announcing and the anointing of Jesus’ ministries. The church, therefore, devotes two Sundays of the Advent season to this very special man: this strange guy who eats locusts and honey and wears strange clothes, living among the poor in the wilderness. I can picture him with wild hair and a beard that has never been cut. The first Sunday we hear about John at the pinnacle of his success in his ministry. How he stuck out in the world as an extraordinary man proclaiming the most extraordinary message— the savior is here! Which is then capped off by him, John the Baptist, baptizing God’s son. John has become a worldwide rockstar of his age. Jesus even labels him the greatest man ever born.
And then at the height of his ministry, John is locked up in prison. I can picture him sitting and sleeping on the dirt floor of a cell, possibly chained to the wall, surrounded by savage guards with zero regard for him. He has no regular meals and no comforting fire. And so John begins to have doubts. Was I wrong: are you, Jesus, truly the one? John is experiencing a dark night of the soul. John is looking for a miracle.
In December, I had a remarkable week, sitting at tables with the lame, the sick and the poor. First, I spent a Wednesday night at Austin Street Center with our serving team. During the dinner, I sat down at tables filled with homeless women. I listened to their stories and heard their prayer requests. The things they prayed for were a safe home, the return of their children, a job, wholesome meals, and good health. The same things we all want.
I met one tiny woman who looked like a grandmother who was clearly suffering from unmedicated mental health issues. She had been living on the streets and in shelters for 18 years. There was another woman, a grandmother, who was forced out of her home because of the violence within it. Her son, who had zero resources, had the wherewithal to take her to the shelter to keep her safe. I also met a mother beat down by life. It permeated her very being, her posture, her expression, her words.
Then the next Thursday morning, I sat at a library table at Foster Elementary School with a little boy 7 years old, one of my kids I am tutoring. He definitely has special needs, and he has been trying so hard just to learn his ABC’s. We are pretty good with A and B. The goal is to get through all 26 letters by the end of the year—and this is not one that will be easily achieved. It will take work, and he is trying his very best. I wonder what his life will be like when he is older. He is and will be so vulnerable throughout its entirety, in poverty on the edge of homelessness. His future is precarious, and we can already tell that for a sweet boy that is only 7.
Then Friday I shared a table at Jubilee, sharing lunch with some of the seniors. One woman I met described the miracle of medicine she received, after being brushed off by seven sets of doctors and nurses who refused to give her time or effort. She wondered if it was because she was poor and shy about speaking about her symptoms, and was on Medicaid. An eighth doctor finally took the time to really see her and was able to diagnose what turned out to be a forty-pound mass in her abdomen that the other medical teams missed.
When you stop to consider the depth and breadth of the needs of the world, and I am not just talking about the small part assigned to Dallas, Texas, they can be overwhelming, freezing us in our tracks, leaving us to throw up our hands as to our inability to make even the slightest dent. We can feel like John in prison, questioning the presence of Christ. Hoping for a miracle. We can feel like the woman I met at Austin Street Center, hanging on by her fingernails to the hope that God will somehow send her help—a home, a job, security, and safety. There are so many people living in darkness waiting for good news. Looking for salvation. Hoping for a miracle.
I love being at Saint Michael because I get to spend time in the places where we serve and meet and really see the people I just described. But I also love being at Saint Michael because I have been able to meet and see you. You are an extraordinary group of extremely talented and generous people. Of all the places in our corner of the world, this Dallas community, I believe Saint Michael has the people, the gifts needed, and the open hearts required to share the hope of Christ, the love for our neighbor. I believe we have the ability to bring his real miracles into lives starving for basic needs.
We are called to be characters, to live into the fullness of our call, to stand out in the world, and to be the ones to bring not just the good news of the arrival of Jesus, but also to share in his aid: helping the lame to walk, aiding in cures for the sick and providing basic needs for the poor. We are called to help them find a way to live in safety and security with wholesome food, education, and opportunities, while living in homes and neighborhoods where families can joyfully thrive.
Jesus tells us that to those whom much is given, much is expected. This is a commandment from God himself. And this is something I see so many of you already do, and hope so many of you want to join. I truly believe Saint Michael has the opportunity to make miracles happen in our corner of the world. To impact so many lives in the nooks and crannies of Dallas. To see the unseen, and then do something about it. Working not on our own steam, thank heaven, but with and through God. Emmanuel, God with us.
I, therefore, invite you to pray how God is calling you. To let these little words of mine touch your heart and tickle your brain cells. I have no doubt that God will inspire our imaginations (it has already started). It is through this work that the message of the gospel is best shared. As Jesus himself told us, showed us, and assured John the Baptist in his cell—tell him, tell the world, the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor have good news brought to them.
May we carry them in our heart, as we walk with our Lord in this new year, always looking for ways to continue His work in the world. Please contact the Rev. Robin Hinkle at [email protected] to find out how you can help Saint Michael in the work of Mission and Outreach.
**This article was written by the Rev. Robin Hinkle and was featured in the 2023 Spring Archangel.