Sunday Services at 10:00am
1155 Silas Deane Highway, Wethersfield
“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:14-16)
If you would have asked me a month ago who Thomas Hooker was, I would not have been able to tell you. I grew up in Connecticut, attended public school here and spent numerous afternoons downtown in our state capital and yet the name would not have rung a bell to me. However after spending four and a half days living and serving in the City of Hartford, I can now tell you that Thomas Hooker was a reverend who had a vision for Hartford to be a “City on a Hill” where God would be glorified. And as a member of The Hartford Project this year, I was able to witness firsthand a portion of his vision come to pass, as God was certainly glorified in our capital city!
Imagine with me if you will 250 teenagers from all over the state and region coming together to serve and love the people of Hartford, all in the name of Jesus. Imagine them cooking and serving hot meals to the homeless and hungry or walking the streets of downtown picking up trash and doing yard work. Imagine them bringing joy and smiles to hundreds of people as they painted faces and drew tattoos on children for hours upon hours at a “love wins” block party. Imagine them stepping out of their comfort zones to talk and pray with people on the street corners! And imagine them all dancing and singing together in worship to God at the foot of the Old State House during a busy lunch hour. This is what I witnessed in Hartford during The Hartford Project: teenagers and adults alike becoming the hands and feet of God to reach out to His people with His love!
There’s a story in the Bible where Jesus and His disciples are invited to dinner at Matthew’s house. At the dinner Jesus is seen eating and communing with tax collectors and other “disreputable sinners” and the Pharisees are pretty upset about it. In disgust, they ask His disciples why Jesus is eating with such men. Jesus responds to them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick… For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners” (Matthew 9:12-13).
I can only speak from my point of view, but it seems we who live in the suburbs tend not to spend a lot of time in the city of Hartford, and that when we do we usually tend to come in, do what we have to do for ourselves, and leave. We seem to only see the problems in the city and the violence there, without really knowing what’s going on. And we start pointing fingers at the “sinners” as if to explain away why things are the way they are. In a lot of ways it feels like we barely even take the time to truly see the people who live there, to listen to their hearts and to care about them as human.
During my time in Hartford, as I walked around the city and watched the people all around me, I began to wonder if maybe Jesus would have done things differently than us. If instead of just seeing the mess in the city and carrying on His way, if instead He would have spent time with people, communing and engaging with them, just like He did at Matthew’s house. I believe He would have! In fact, John 1:14 says that God became flesh and “moved into the neighborhood” (The Message Version) and honestly, I think that’s exactly what Jesus would have done, what He did do during His time here on earth and how He moved during The Hartford Project!
The Hartford Project is a once a year opportunity for teenagers to come into Hartford and be God’s servants. But as citizens of Connecticut and members of the family of God each of us is given an opportunity every day to reach out to those in our neighborhoods, at our jobs and even in the city of Hartford, to show them just how much God loves each and every one! My prayer is that God would ignite the vision of Thomas Hooker into each of our hearts that we might step out in faith and continue to see God move through us in this region! Amen!
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