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Locality and the Kingdom of God, or, What Jeremiah 29:7 has to do with our event tonight…

April 13, 2012

Tonight’s the night! Shayne Moore, Helen Lee, Keri Wyatt Kent, Caryn Rivadeneira, and Terri Kraus will be at the store this evening at 7 pm signing books and hosting a free workshop on The Secret Writing Lives of Moms. If you’re a mom, or ever want to be, and you sense a vocation to write, this one’s for you.

Later this month (April 28th, to be exact), Shayne and Helen will be the plenary speakers at Motherhood: Redefined, a conference on developing a theology of motherhood that keeps God’s global (and local) purposes in focus. Both events are very, very cool, and our hope is both events will help the women of our community realize there’s a large, local network of mothers thinking about the Kingdom of God and working out their salvation in fear and trembling as they pursue God’s calling in the lives of their families. For Helen, just one of the ways that works out is in home schooling her children and supporting the causes of One Day’s Wages through a portion of the proceeds of her book. For Shayne, it means pin-pointing the wealth of resources available in our affluent suburb and directing them towards resolving the AIDS crisis in Africa (and elsewhere) in partnership with ONE. (And never, ever, quieting down about how important our involvement is, or drawing a clear connection between being a Christian and serving the poor). Their books are combination memoir and practical guide, and you can get them signed here tonight.

What is so exciting for us is that Shayne, Helen, and the rest of their colleagues that will be here tonight are local. Local authors at a local, independent business just makes our heart glow with community-development love. But beyond the warm and fuzzy feelings, we’re starting to amp up the loud-speaker on why buying local is so important. We know it’ll be a little pesky to some of you, but we can’t apologize, because really, these things are at the heart of the Gospel too.

Yes, we’re getting listed on IndieBound, and yes, we’re pursuing a stronger relationship with other locals in our community. Beyond the awesome character and uniqueness that being local brings, there’s some important economic and theological considerations to weigh as well, as Christians and members of a local community.

Are you a big Timothy Keller fan? We at J&T are, and if you’ve ever heard his sermon on loving the city, you know that he reminds New Yorkers what we in the Western Suburbs and greater Chicagoland area can say to ourselves: “Seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare.” (Jer 29:7). If you have a high view of God’s sovereignty, you agree with us that it isn’t accidental that you are placed in a specific geographical location at this time. Instead of longing to be somewhere else and getting all your resources from far away, God tells us to remember our neighbors, the people close by, and to invest in them and care for them, even while we’re waiting for him to restore all things. Because when Jesus comes back, he’s not taking us out of the world but restoring all things in it. As citizens of that Kingdom, we can live according to that vision now. Part of that means seeking the transformation of our neighborhoods, towns, and cities. And part of that transformation is economic. And like Shayne points out, part of that transformation is in the healing of the nations, and like Helen points out, part of that transformation is in our homes (they both have lots of other ideas as well).

Buying local is an investment in your local community. We are all locals at J&T, from our cashiers to the president and owners of our company. I quoted this on Facebook yesterday, but it’s said that when you spend $100 at a local business, $68 stays in your local community (and since we’re Christians, you can be confident a portion of that goes straight to local churches). When you spend $100 at a national chain, only $43 stays in your local community, and who knows how much any local church sees as a result (source). Do you see the connection to buying local and the advancement of the Gospel?

We’re still working out in store how we can compel you to shop local while also offering incentives to keep your money in the community. Thanks for your patience as we tally the numbers and think about what we need to survive, to keep our business going, and how we can develop prices and promotions that wont ring you out. If you have ideas about this, we’re all ears.

Meanwhile, stop by tonight and chat with us about understanding the connection between your calling as a parent and your gifts of writing. Who knows, maybe next year, you’ll be one of our plenary speakers, you talented local author you, inspiring your friends and neighbors to use the gifts God has given them to invest in their families, in their city, and in the world.

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