Fifth Sunday After Pentecost - Pastor's Message

“Which of these three, do you think, was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of the robbers?’ He said, ‘The one who showed him mercy.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Go and do likewise.’” (Luke 10:36-37).

On the second weekend of every month here at St. John’s, you can count on members of our Global Missions Team being present before and after worship selling their Fair Trade Coffee, Teas, Chocolate, and Olive Oil. In fact, St. John’s is one of the largest supporters of the Fair Trade Project in the entire ELCA! It is one of the many things I love about St. John’s. Every Sunday, our congregation provides hands-on ways that we can serve others and take the good news of Christ’s love beyond our walls and into the world around us. Purchasing fair trade products is one of the many ways St. John’s is being sent into the world for the sake of the gospel!

The Fair Trade Project was begun by the Women of the ELCA in October 2003. Today, more than 7,000 of the ELCA’s 10,000 congregations across the U.S. and the Caribbean are involved in Fair Trade. The Fair Trade Project provides congregations with access to organic, fairly-traded products at discounted wholesale case prices, ensuring that more of the money you spend on coffee, tea, chocolate, and other products reaches the hardworking farms who actually grow them. As described by Lutheran World Relief on their website, the principles of Fair Trade include:

  • Fair prices and credit, so that farmers actually benefit from their hard work and are able to support families and invest in their communities;

  • Ethical labor conditions, where farmers work for fair compensation in safe conditions, without being subjected to coercion, harassment, or abuse;

  • Democratic organization, so farmers can independently come together to take advantage of access to markets and community decision making;

  • Community development, so these self-organizing communities can make decisions to advance local interests; and,

  • Environmental sustainability which ensures that best practices to care for the creation and preserve the land are used by all farmers.

One of the many places where Fair Trade is making a difference in the lives of local individuals and communities is in the South American nation of Paraguay. Manduvira, a sugarcane cooperative sponsored and supported by the Equal Exchange Fair Trade Project, engages with the local community, including its youth, to make it possible for local farmers to remain connected to their rural livelihoods and to continue participating in their family farms while earning a fair price for their hard labor. Thanks to our congregation’s strong support of the Fair Trade Project, St. John’s is in Paraguay and in so many other places around the world, supporting local farmers and their communities.

In today’s gospel from Luke, Jesus sends his disciples into the world to be doers of mercy to the weakest and most vulnerable of their neighbors. As Jesus’ disciples in the world today, Jesus sends us to “Go and do likewise.” Through our Global Mission Team’s monthly Fair Trade Ministry, we are!