From the Executive Director: 30,000 ft. View

5 “When you enter a house, first say, ‘Peace to this house.’ 6 If someone who promotes peace is there, your peace will rest on them; if not, it will return to you. 7 Stay there, eating and drinking whatever they give you, for the worker deserves his wages. Do not move around from house to house.
8 “When you enter a town and are welcomed, eat what is offered to you. 9 Heal the sick who are there and tell them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’ 10 But when you enter a town and are not welcomed, go into its streets and say, 11 ‘Even the dust of your town we wipe from our feet as a warning to you. Yet be sure of this: The kingdom of God has come near.’ Luke 10:5-11.
Have you ever heard someone speak of a general idea, or set of facts, as the “30,000 foot view?”

I suppose that makes sense considering the “reality” of a view from an airplane window. Certainly what is seen is real and recognizable as river and roadway but the specifics of detail are lost. What can you tell about a neighborhood from 30,000 feet above?

Another expression is about the availability of services or resources. Have you heard about the delivery of electricity to homes, or later telephones, and even later the connection of high-speed data on the world-wide-web, as the “last mile?” How many people waited years for the last mile of technological connection? How many neighborhoods are still not “connected” because of the cost of extending a wire or a pipe “that last mile?”

A reality of community security is sometimes related to the “last 100 yards.” Political stability and community safety is expressed in the military and civil control ultimately expressed in the presence of soldiers and military authority. The last 100 yards, from an infantryman’s point of view, determines who controls a neighborhood.

The President of the United States is protected by a space of 10 feet. The security detail that protects the president is very careful to maintain a safe personal space around the most powerful man in the world. Approaching the president is more than protocol and courtesy because getting inside the “10 foot zone” is to be trusted, or closely investigated.
All four of these perspectives or “zones,” the long view, the node, the street view, and personal space are a daily reality that lead up to the most important place for a child of God; where neighbors meet.

Every day at United Methodist Neighborhood Centers we try to make sense of social and economic realities, government policy and the vision of the church that has a 30,000 foot perspective. Using technology that puts us in touch with social workers and administrators pastors and laity, volunteers and donors of different descriptions we try to tell our story. That story is about the work of that last, most important encounter, inside the 10 feet, face to face, sometimes with a hug of encouragement being in touch with a person that needs assurance of God’s love.

Our mission is not only to be there for the up-close work of Christian witness but to share the power of that work among the souls of the faithful. Jesus commanded his followers to “Heal the sick… and say to them, The kingdom of God has come near to you.” ( Lk. 10:9)

It is that change of perspective that allows followers of Christ to see His way as we follow, not “near” the kingdom, as wonderful a blessing as that is, but into the Kingdom where our perspective is made perfect.

Peace and Grace,
Rev. Brent Porterfield
Executive Director, UMNC

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