That heading is one provided for us by the large church body we are part of: the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. The “America” part is simple; the “Church” part isn’t too hard either. “Lutheran” may be more tricky because there are several kinds of Lutherans, but we all subscribe to the idea that “God is in Christ reconciling the world to Himself.” So far, so good.
But “Evangelical?” The word has recently slid into mis-use in politics, referring to an agenda that some would like to see the nation adopt. But its meaning in our church’s name goes back to its Greek roots: good news. (Greek? because the New Testament was originally written in Greek.)
So the label “Evangelical” means that as a church, and as individuals, we are to be about getting the good news into the world. And the “good news?” Other parts of our website discuss this more in depth; just say here that the good news—long ago and still today—is that God loves people, and sent Jesus to prove it. God’s love in action is what we call “grace.” And yes, it is amazing.
Getting that “evangel” out there into the world has many parts. If God’s work is getting the news of radical acceptance and active love out there, then in this world that means our hands have to be doing it. One way is service to others. A great Lutheran teacher, Dietrich Bonhoeffer said it this way: “The transcendent is not the infinite, unattainable tasks, but the neighbor within reach in any given situation.”
At DOP, we take that “neighbor within reach” literally. This section of our website links to many different aspects of our service to neighbors. Some of it involves food. Some involves shoes, sweaters, and blankets. Some involves dollars. Some involves advocacy on public policy. But every bit of our work for others expresses our “evangel”: God’s work is to demonstrate absolute love—no conditions, no prerequisites.
That’s grace. That’s what we try to live up to.