Friday, April 13, 2012

Friday Five: Mission Impossible

Revkjarla is in mission trip mode right now, as she gets ready to take a group of youth to DC to do service work around hunger and homelessness issues. So, in that spirit, our FF is Mission Style! So here are your questions:

1) Have you ever been on a mission trip, as a participant or adult chaperone? What was it like?
My family and I (including my mom, sister and our children) all go to Bluff, Utah for a week each year to offer VBS to the Dine' (Navajo) children in the area.  It is a ministry of presence even more than Gospel-spreading.  Relationships are only built over years of going - one year going does not build authenticity in this community.  I usually focus most on the older young women of the group and it has been gratifying to watch them grow into college students.  They are truly breaking cycles of poverty. 
I also am planning a youth mission trip to Bastrop, TX for wildfire disaster clean-up in June.  The youth of St Martin want to travel there to assist.  There is an Episcopal church in town so we are looking forward to working with the people there.

2) What is the worst thing that happened to you/your group on a mission trip (or retreat, or camp, or Habitat for Humanity experience, or something like that--hey, this is YOUR Friday Five, so you get to play it how you would like.)
I was an adult-sponsor (parent) on a trip with middle schoolers from 3 different churches and we stayed at a church.  The church had a septic system that could not handle the capacity of 30 teens plus adults, so the restrooms became unusable.  Having to drive the potty shuttle to the closest Wal-Mart was interesting. 

3) If money were no object, where would you want to go to help and serve? What would you do?
I don't know. I would love to work in NavajoLand as a priest.  I love the people and the land when we travel to Bluff every year.  Once David retires, maybe... 

4) What would be your advice to someone who will be sleeping in a gym with 20 other people for a week?
Modest pajamas - really good blow-up mattress (go to a real camping store) - Ipod for falling asleep - alarm clock - sense of humor 24/7. 

5) Any parting thoughts, stories, or questions you have around the whole theme of Mission Trips?
I have been very mindful of who actually benefits from mission trips after hearing a missionary from South America address the Episcopal Youth Event last year, and listening to one of the God Complex Radio podcasts. It is a complex topic.  Do we unintentionally do more harm than good sometimes?

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Easter Sermon

Who are you looking for??
       Everyone is here today seeking something: approval from a family member for coming to church, Easter eggs, maybe even a brush with the Divine – God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit – I suspect maybe all of the above. 

So who are you looking for? 
       If you are looking for a community of people who look and think like you – who all subscribe to the same thoughts about God and who they think God loves and doesn’t, this is not where you are.  However, if you are looking for a community of people who like to think deeply about God, and wrestle with what it means to be Christian in the world today – and may REALLY wrestle with how to love all of our neighbors – this may be the people you are looking for. 

Who are you looking for? 
       God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit: this can make us a bit squirmy can’t it?  Here we are today – saying Alleluias because a human who died was raised back to life – and still lives.  Those who have followed along with the timeline of the last week may be exhausted by the emotional roller coaster.  Last week at this time we were shouting Hosanna in the Highest – then Friday we left the church grief-filled knowing that Jesus was dead.  Really dead.  And now we’re back – celebrating that our redeemer lives!!  It defies logic.  Without the last three days, there would be no Christianity.  Without the last three days, we would have no assurance of a God that loves us enough to walk among us, or the Sacrament that feeds our bodies and souls every week – we would have no hope of life everlasting.

Who are you looking for?
       Here you will find people full of hope.  Today that is what we are given.  Not all of us will feel joyful today – it’s been a rough week.  Maybe you’re having a rough year, or a rough few years.  Joy is not required today – hope is what we find here on Easter.  Just as God led our Jewish ancestors out of Egypt, out of slavery – Jesus leads us out of death and into life.  We will all die – just as Jesus did.  No one escapes death- HOWEVER – because of Easter – because of our belief in Jesus Christ, we know that there is something MORE.  We know that we will one day be reunited with those who have gone before us – we know that even when we leave this life, that will not be the end of our story. 

So who are you looking for?
       This is who we are – we are people of the Resurrection.  We believe that death is never the end of the story.  We believe that God loves everyone – no exceptions.  We believe that Jesus expects us to be his body in this world: his hands and his feet, his mind and his heart, and his love.  We live in the Hope of the Resurrection!  Amen.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Good Friday Homily

The Love Song has been sung – the voice is silenced.  Now what?

This is the time of year when old sore spots come to the surface.  Today I have been thinking a lot about my brother who died of cancer about 12 years ago – today lends itself to grief – and rightly so.  Today about 3pm our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ died of torture.  Today his loving voice and laughing eyes ceased to be.  Today we lose the One who loves us more than we can ask or imagine.  It’s a rough day.

And Why?  Why is a big question today too –

·        Why did this day happen?  I don’t know.  No one else does either – not really – only God knows.  I was raised with the idea that Jesus Christ died on the cross for us – because we are sinners.  I think that is part of the story.  I believe that Jesus did not HAVE to die this way – that there are any number of other ways God could have redeemed us.  However, because Jesus did die this way, we cannot ever think of any situation where we could find ourselves as human beings that Jesus Christ cannot understand – or find unworthy – or unlovable.  And that’s the crux of the human condition isn’t it?  We wonder if we are unlovable at the core of our being.  I believe that the cross, as a shameful instrument of torture, shows us that Jesus Christ is with us no matter where we find ourselves – no matter what we’ve gotten ourselves into – no matter what our own eventual manner of death – Jesus has already been there and is there to walk with us through it.  God knows the grief of dying that way – God knows the grief of losing a child – God is there with us. 

·        Why do we intentionally put ourselves through this every year?  The birth narrative does not have the same meaning for us without this day.  Easter would not be as joyous without the sorrow of today. 

I am not going to leave you with a comforting thought to go away with tonight.  I am going to ask you instead to sit with your grief – sit in it for the next 24 hours – that is the purpose of remembering – in poking at our own grief, we find healing – in taking it apart and examining it, we re-member and put it back together differently.  As you go through it, ponder a life without hope, without reassurance, without Divine love… where we would be without Jesus’ divine death.  I pray for God to bless our journeys in grief.   Amen.