We’re kicking off a new GROOVY series, SOLVE7: Summer of Love. We will be spending the next seven weeks learning what Jesus says about loving your neighbor and caring for each other, while at the same time, giving you weekly opportunities to put your faith into action.
Before we jump into the teaching today… can we just take a moment and reflect back on the last couple of weeks? Some incredible things have been going on.
If you weren’t able to join us last Sunday… there was a little announcement made... Jon Tisevich announced as next Senior Minister.
Kelly and I have been overwhelmed by the outpouring of love and support the last few weeks. Thank you.
We’re also two weeks into our 90 Day Generosity Challenge. There are so many incredible stories coming in about how God is showing up in people’s lives. We’d love to hear how God is showing up in your life through these 90 days… shoot us an email and share your story.
If you haven’t started this 90 Day challenge… it’s not too late, you can join here.
Now, without further ado… welcome to the SUMMER OF LOVE.
Now, before you get any ideas, we will not be recreating the social phenomenon that took place in 1967 in San Francisco. At least, I don’t think that’s the plan. In 1967, over 100,000 people from all over the country flooded the streets of the Haight-Ashbury neighborhood and the Golden Gate Park in San Francisco to experience peace, love, music, and psychedelic drugs.
Artists like George Harrison of the Beatles, Joan Baez, Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, and Jerry Garcia all showed up to perform and take part in the Summer of Love. What you may not know about the Summer of Love, is what happened afterward.
In the months and years to come directly following the love fest of ’67, a Jesus People movement spread throughout the west coast. Pastors and evangelists, who weren’t afraid to put their reputation on the line, saw what was happening in San Francisco and began flooding the area to try to reach this young crowd that was so obviously searching for belonging.
As a result, thousands of young people ended up giving their lives to Christ and were baptized in the Pacific Ocean. Over the next few years, this Jesus Movement became so popular it was featured on the cover of TIME magazine.
The ‘Jesus Freak’ movement, birthed out of the summer of love, revolutionized worship music, ministry style, and ministry approach that still impacts how we worship over 50 years later.
"And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God." Romans 8:28
So what does a 2021 Summer of Love look like for us?? I’m so glad you asked…
What would it look like if a bunch of Jesus people spent their summer, spreading the love of Jesus throughout the greater Cincinnati area and around the world? What if, in the midst of long over-due summer vacations and travel sports, we actually put the first things first, to love our neighbor well?
In Matthew 22, Jesus was asked what the greatest commandment was. In verses 37-40, Jesus says, “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind." This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.”
Vacations are great. We’re gonna take one. Summer cookouts are awesome. But what if a crazy group of Jesus freaks, in the summer of ’21, decided to take Jesus up on his greatest command for our lives and we decided to love God and love people with everything we have?
A few years ago, our Whitewater team took a look at the largest barriers people are faced with here in Cincinnati and around the world. We started asking the questions... How do we remove these barriers? What would peoples’ lives look like if these barriers were removed? Out of this, our SOLVE7 ministry was birthed.
SOLVE7 exists to help people find HOPE by removing physical barriers to make way for spiritual opportunities.
We identified seven areas, seven barriers, that as Jesus people, we need to address.
These are the seven. As Jesus people, we will:
Find the Forgotten
Feed the Hungry
Clothe the Poor
House the Homeless
Educate the Student
Rescue the Slave
Heal the Sick
Over the next seven weeks, we will lean into each one of these areas. Not only that, we will be inviting all of you to join us on a mission to love our neighbors, locally and globally in all seven of these areas.
If you have kids in Harbortown, they’re going through this as well. If you’re in a small group, SOLVE7 is built into your group curriculum for the summer. We’re all leaning into this together.
All of this is rooted in Jesus’ teaching in Matthew 25. Jesus is giving His disciples a picture of the Kingdom of heaven, and he says this in verses 34-36: "Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the creation of the world. For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me."
And verses 37-40 say, “Then these righteous ones will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry and feed you? Or thirsty and give you something to drink? Or a stranger and show you hospitality? Or naked and give you clothing? When did we ever see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!’"
If I can just hit time out and get real for a second.
Coming out of a year like 2020, when so much of our lives was placed on hold, I’m watching as so many people now are trying to make up for lost time.
They’ve saved some of that stimulus money, and so this summer, vacation is gonna be bigger than ever. We’re gonna go do more. See more. Live more. And don’t get me wrong… that’s all well and good. Seriously… I’m gonna be hitting the Cincinnati scene hard this summer. My family hasn’t been able to experience all that Cincinnati has to offer yet. Everything was closed when we moved down.
We are so excited for summer concerts, hanging on the Banks, baseball games, City Flea, West Side Market… we’ve already started and we love it. But, if I’m being honest… there’s a check-in with my spirit about this. Like a caution light or check engine, the light is flashing. Like, I know we wanna go do more, have fun, go on vacations, travel, but….
Are we gonna get so busy, with so little margin, that we forget to make the first things first?
Are we gonna forget there’s a lost, hurt, hungry, and dying world all around us?
Not trying to be a buzzkill.
Every day, in Cleves, in Cincinnati, in Kentucky, Indiana, and around the world, there are:
Kids going to bed hungry.
People sleeping under the 3rd Street bridge.
Moms without clothes for their babies.
Widows and orphans being forgotten about.
Children and women being sold into the hell of trafficking and slavery.
If I apply what Matthew 25 is teaching me, then... that’s Jesus going to bed hungry, that’s Jesus sleeping under the 3rd Street Bridge, that’s Jesus without clothes for his babies, that’s Jesus being forgotten about, and that’s Jesus being sold into slavery.
I want my kids to experience a beautiful and abundant life. But more than that, I want my family to bring Kingdom to Earth. To bring hope to the hurting.
I KNOW that my family and YOUR family have been called by God to transform the world around us in Jesus’ name. But if we don’t make THIS a priority, in a matter of weeks and months…
Gathering together at church won’t be a priority…
Serving won’t be a priority…
Loving our neighbor won’t be a priority…
It will be back to work, back to school. Back to normal… and we can’t be ok with normal. Jesus did not call us to be normal. Jesus called us out to be extraordinary. To be difference makers. To be light in the darkness.
So, if you’re single, grab a friend.
If you’re married, grab your spouse.
If you’re a family, grab your kids.
This summer, we’re going on a mission.
One neighbor at a time, one experience at a time.
And we have so much experiencing available to you…
- Next week, we’ll talk about the Freedom Experience where we’ll help women and children be rescued from slavery.
- Later in July, we have cookouts planned for our military veterans and another one for our elderly friends.
- We will have opportunities to fill bags with food and needed items for children in need both here in the Cincinnati area and around the world.
- We will have an opportunity to provide and sort clothes for the homeless.
- Another opportunity takes us to multiple laundromats in the tri-state area to build relationships and pay for people’s laundry.
- We'll have another opportunity to put together furniture that will go to families in need.
- Another opportunity will provide new shoes for kids who otherwise won’t get a new pair of shoes as they go back to school this year.
This is just a small sample of all of the things we have planned this summer. For more info, you can go to solve7.org or you can visit our team at the SOLVE7 tent in The Landing after service.
Together, we are going to love Jesus AND our neighbors in a huge way this summer.
When we FIND the orphan, incarcerated, or refugee who has been forgotten by society, we give them HOPE that they matter and are loved.
When we FEED the hungry, we give them HOPE that their physical needs are just as important as their spiritual needs.
When we RESCUE the slave from forced labor and sex trafficking, we give them HOPE that freedom exists, that they are a child of GOD. A child with purpose, not an object to be discarded.
When we HEAL the sick from physical and mental illness we give them HOPE that they will overcome and that their identity is not their illness.
When we EDUCATE the student, we give them HOPE that they can have a better future than what they once believed.
When we CLOTHE the poor, we give them HOPE that they will be treated with respect and seen as a person with value.
When we HOUSE the homeless, we give them HOPE that they are part of a community that believes they matter.
As a movement of Jesus People, we will transform the world around us.
I’m praying and believing that this Summer of Love will move all of us from Survival to Revival.