Key Text: Luke 19:1-10
The gospel teaches us to see value in unusual places. Take a moment to reflect on how the gospel has helped reveal to you your own value. If you feel comfortable, share some thoughts with the group.
The Revd Herbert Fadriquela, now a chaplain to the Filipino community in Leicester, recalls his work as a development officer with the Philippine Independent Church (a member of the Anglican Communion).
In my role as a development officer with the Philippine Independent Church, I had the opportunity to work alongside communities for whom food insecurity and social injustices are a daily reality.
The philosophy of the church is to see development as a process of growth towards a full life. Rather than implementing a policy of handouts, we should respect human dignity and encourage people towards self-reliance, self-governance and self-nurturing.
The result is significant change, seen in increased community co-operation, the sharing of knowledge and skills, and a shared creative response to poverty.
A small example of this process comes from the village of Davao del Sur. Jubelyn Sinoy, aged 26, is married with four children. Her husband works in a small factory that processes coconut oil. Jubelyn attended development workshops run by the church (with support from USPG). She learned she could change her life by drawing upon whatever resources were at hand.
Davao del Sur is known for its banana plantations. Before the workshops, Jubelyn and her neighbours would simply burn the left-over banana stalks and leaves. But, through training, they came to realise that this waste material was an asset. Indeed, dried banana stalks are considered the best fertiliser for growing mushrooms. So Jubelyn and her neighbours set up a backyard mushroom project. As well as generating an income by selling mushrooms, the venture has the added health benefit of getting rid of waste material that can attract dengue-carrying mosquitoes.
Jubelyn said: ‘Income from the mushroom project buys soap, sugar and dried fish, and it helps pay our children’s school fees. I am also able to save from my husband’s wage to pay medical bills.’
This is the gospel in action – helping people to realise their potential, and changing lives. It means community empowerment and social transformation.
Zacchaeus, a rich tax collector, was considered by many to be a sinner and beyond hope. But he had faith. His encounter with Jesus changed him. The change in him was more than a feeling – Zacchaeus expressed his change of heart through direct action.
He entered Jericho and was passing through it. A man was there named Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was rich. He was trying to see who Jesus was, but on account of the crowd he could not, because he was short in stature. So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore tree to see him, because he was going to pass that way.
When Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, hurry and come down; for I must stay at your house today.”
So he hurried down and was happy to welcome him.
All who saw it began to grumble and said, “He has gone to be the guest of one who is a sinner.”
Zacchaeus stood there and said to the Lord, “Look, half of my possessions, Lord, I will give to the poor; and if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I will pay back four times as much.”
Then Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because he too is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek out and to save the lost.”
Lord Jesus, you called Zacchaeus out of hiding
and honoured him in his own home.
As you call and welcome each of us,
give us courage to become the change of which we dream.