Good News to the Poor

There came a defining moment for Jesus at the beginning of his public ministry. Showing up one sabbath day at his boyhood synagogue in Nazareth, he read to the congregation from the prophet Isaiah and, in that moment, declared his own agenda:

The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, 
    because the Lord has anointed me.
He has sent me to preach good news to the poor, 
    to proclaim release to the prisoners
    and recovery of sight to the blind, 
    to liberate the oppressed, 
 and to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.

Did you catch the agenda? It’s pretty short: good news to the poor; release to prisoners; sight to the blind; liberation for the oppressed; and announcing God’s favor on everybody. This past week, two different gatherings caused me to think of Christ’s agenda and of the different opportunities we have to embody good news:

Through acts of compassion:

Last Friday night at the Christ House volunteer appreciation dinner (which we hosted), I found myself thanking God for the chance to partner with an organization that offers healing and hope to men who are both sick and homeless. Did you know:

  • Christ house (CH) offers 24-hour medical care.
  • The average length of stay for a CH resident is 41 days.
  • In 2017 CH served over 195 patients. Case managers assisted patients in obtaining benefits, legal documents, and referrals to mental health services, transitional living programs, and vocational training programs.
  • In 2017 CH provided over 50,000 meals and offered 330 classes and activities for the residents, including substance abuse recovery, educational activities and health promotion classes.

Through advocacy:


At a meeting I attended with D. C. Attorney General, Karl Racine a week ago at First Congregational United Church of Christ, along with Ken Ellison, Rob Marus and Kate Campbell I found myself wondering what “good news to the poor” might look like in D.C. with regard to housing. Did you know:

  • There are 40,000 people on the waiting list for DC public housing.
  • The 2001 zip code is the second most rapidly gentrifying zip code in the country.  
  • The D. C. Zoning Commission recently tripled the size of the downtown but has failed to require developers to build any affordable housing under Inclusionary Zoning as they must do elsewhere in the city.  
  • The proposed DC 2019 budget for homeless housing falls short by $30 million, while the Council has recently voted to subsidize development at Union Market at a cost of $82 million.

Sometimes good news to the poor looks like cup of cold water (or a hospital bed) offered in Jesus’ name. Sometimes it sounds like a voice advocating for policies that look out for the most vulnerable. What’s your piece of Christ’s agenda? What’s our collective piece together?

Pondering good news…