Saturday, I had the privilege of speaking at an event celebrating 25 years of ministry to the neediest people in the city of Philadelphia. This event, called Gospelrama, is an annual celebration of the work of two friends and colleagues whose vision it was (and remains) to meet as many of the core needs of people who regularly go without, and to do that on a sustained basis. This includes the provision of food and clothing to many and trusting GOD to supply the resources that they distribute to others. Operating on a shoestring budget, often self-funded, those resources have come steadily over 25 years, often in ways that can only be described as miraculous.
Even in this season of Covid-19, they and their volunteers have been able to distribute an astounding amount of food (read tons!) to hungry people and families on a daily and weekly basis through compassionate ministry partnership doors that opened to them just in time as the needs grew larger. Because of this ministry, some who formerly needed the help have given their lives to Christ and are now serving as faithful ministry volunteers.
Ordinarily, the near full day, outdoor Gospelrama takes place at the Philadelphia City Hall where street and homeless people converge with tourists, the lunch and bar crowd, wedding parties, skate boarders and others. There is worshipful singing and praise dancing and proclamation from various spiritual communities, including my own denominational tribe. Hot food and water is offered free to anyone who wants it. This year, because of Covid-19, Gospelrama was a virtual event combined with the distribution of pre-boxed food by a group of volunteers.
The suffix “rama” has an Indo-European origin and means a time of celebration and rejoicing. Gospelrama is a celebration of the Gospel, the Good News of Jesus Christ who came to give life and give it in abundance (John 10:10). It is a time set aside to rejoice over what GOD has done over the past 25 years, over the past year in particular, and what He is still able to do because His love for us endures forever, as the psalmists remind us.
Most of what I shared Saturday was along these themes and was aimed at the unchurched crowd. Church folks know this stuff (or should) and my interest wasn’t really them. I wanted to speak to those who don’t believe, who aren’t ready to believe, and who are on the fence of believing to hear what GOD has already done for them and what He wants to still do for them and in them.
But now, for those of us who don’t need that level of convincing, there is still a word of truth and a reason to rejoice and celebrate. If the GOD of the Bible is truly GOD (I believe He is), then He is inexhaustible. However much of Him we already have, we can have more, and I believe that is exactly His will for each of us, all of which has been provided by His Son, Jesus the Christ (You know that Christ is not His last name, right? It’s a title meaning Messiah or Savior).
One of the closest early followers of Jesus, a young man named John, said this about Jesus, “And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen His glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth…From His fullness we have all received, grace upon grace” (John 1:14,16).
What we see later in John as he matures, as we see with all of the close followers of Jesus, is that His will for us is that we take on His life, absorbing His fullness into ourselves so that we, like Him become sources of grace upon grace for the sake of others (grace means favored treatment that does not depend on merit). John says that each of us has received this grace and then more grace and then more grace and so on, not because we deserve it (we don’t), but because GOD loves us.
Seeking and allowing the fullness of Christ to dwell within us is the abundant life offered by Jesus for it is His life, which like that of the Father, is infinite and inexhaustible. This is what the Bible would call normal Christianity in the common language of today.
This is the truest celebration of the Gospel i.e. Gospelrama.
© Byron L. Hannon, 2020. All rights reserved to text content unless otherwise noted.