For those interested in Communities of Shalom, here are my sermon notes for the Shalom Chapel today at Drew Theological School, celebrating our 12 student interns who spent 4-10 weeks working in Shalom Zones from Buffalo to LA, from Haiti to Malawi,  in the summer of 2010.

Seek the shalom of the city where I have sent you, and pray to the Lord in its behalf, for in its shalom, you will find your shalom.” –Jeremiah 29:7

We all know what Shalom is Not… The Bible is full of descriptions of systems gone wrong, of sin and dysfunction and injustice. Our focus today is on God’s intentions for Shalom as revealed by the prophets (Isa, Jer. Amos and Micah) who offered not only social analysis and judgment, but practical strategies of renewal.

Shalom and the Prophets:

Isa 61—the familiar passage Jesus quoted in his inaugural sermon in Nazareth. 

In verses 1-3 Messiah speaks about what he is called to do:

“The Spirit is upon me, and anointed me, to bring good news to the poor and oppressed, bind up the broken hearted, proclaim liberty to captives, release prisoners, proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor, the year of Jubilee.”

Then, in verses 4-6 the prophet says: 

“THEY…will rebuild ancient ruins, 

THEY will restore places of devastation, 

THEY will repair ruined cities…

Who are “THEY”?  Precisely those who have received the good news, those who will inhabit those ruined and devastated places and.   The people of God, residents of the city, members of the community, stakeholders in the neighborhood.  (c.f. Isa. 65:17-25)

“They” is us!

And it is the work of Shalom ministers to organize the community and empower the people.

Build…Plant…Restore…Renew…Reweave…Seek Shalom….

Shalom is God’s ultimate desire realized, God’s deepest dream come true.

Twelve students from Drew Theological School this summer took the threads of shalom in their hands, and worked with others in their communities, to reweave and rebuild, restore and renew, the broken textures of communities, transforming the world one community at a time.

Haiti(Josh) bebuilding houses destroyed by earthquake, restoring sense of safety and security, creating opportunities of economic development.

Pharr,Tx (Yvette) venturing out into unincorporated areas on the border of Mexico—colonias—and organizing residents (both legal and undocumented) to claim their shalom.  Raising hope.

Echo Park, Los Angles (Gaius) embracing immigration reform, not just as social policy advocacy but up close and personal through nurturing relationships with kids and families in the neighborhood.

Peace Centerat USC, LA (Summer) introducing children to real peace-makers and teaching them how to resolve conflicts at home and in the community.

Spokane,WA (Catherine) planting gardens and gleaning produce, securing donated food, and mobilizing volunteers to feed hungry people on the streets in the Shalom Dining Room.  Helping the church downtown become a neighborhood parish, including folks on the street (recovering addicts and runaway youth) in the worshipping life of the congregation.

Rosebud, SD(Narshonna) listening to the stories and wisdom of the elders, recording their oral history to preserve the traditions, and connecting with the youth through fitness and hip hop aerobics.

Buffalo, NY (Geralda) mobilizing volunteers for multicultural ministry in a tuff neighborhood for youth at risk.

Monclair, NJ (Barnaby) community organizing against all odds and deep pockets of resistence.

Dallas,Tx (Renee) helping a social justice focused church develop shalom strategies for community transformation

Mzuzu, Malawi (Katrina) empowering women, and focusing on economic development of young women learning to be tailors, to support not only themselves but the AIDS orphans in their care.

Macon, GA, (Dawrell) working through the Mayor’s Office to help neighborhood coalitions design Shalom Plans to reduce crime, improve schools, and rebuild dilapidated houses into homes, creating what the Mayor of Macon calls “A City of Shalom”.   

Shalom Zones are one way to fulfill God’s dream for Shalom in the family and community. 

Closing:  Jeremiah 29

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

Not just hope and a future for you, but for your family

Not just for your family but for the city

Not just the city, but for every nation

Not just for the nations of the world, but for the planet as a whole.  And not just for planet earth, but the whole cosmos of God. 

So, seek the Shalom of the community where you have been sent, and pray to the Lord is its behalf.  For in it’s shalom, you will find your shalom.