Friday, February 01, 2008

The Valley

So my good friend Allan Stanglin thinks he has a really good Preacher's joke:

Q: What do John the Baptist and Kermit the Frog have in common.
A: The same middle name.

I say in the annals of corny Preacher jokes, this one ranks in the Top 10.

What say ye?


I received a quarterly newsletter from ESA Love, Inc. (an ecumenical organization known as Evangelicals for Social Action Love In the Name of Christ). In the newsletter, Associate Director George Ordway shared some interesting insights about the central San Joaquin Valley:

*The first and most noted reality of our Valley is our distinction as the "Agricultural Food Basket of the World."

*2006 crop reports total over $20.6 Billion in gross product value with Fresno Country grossing over $4.8 Billion.

*The 2000 Census reported more than 3 Million residents in the Valley with 655,000 of those (21% of the total population) living below the poverty line.

*One in four children lives in poverty in the Valley.

*In June 2003, the Fresno Bee reported that the Valley is now called "The Appalachia of the West," because of the amount of people living in poverty in the Valley.

What do those statistical realities say to you? For me, they say we could continue to work a lifetime in the kingdom in this Valley and our work would never be fully accomplished. Resting on past laurels is easy to do in the Kingdom of God -- the relishing of past baptisms, past outreach, past benevolence. Yet, the field remains incredibly white and the Valley population in great need of the love of Jesus expressed through his church.

May we, at Woodward Park, always be serious about fulfilling Jesus's own mission in this world: "preach good news to the proclaim freedom for the release the proclaim the year of the Lord's favor" (Luke 4.18-19).