Good gosh, we had the most incredible week at the church! My sermon explains what we did in depth, but essentially we planned five days of local service for our youth group. We had 19 kids participate and 10 adults! I am absolutely exhausted, but my heart is just overflowing at the ways that God worked this week. I’ll put some pictures together and talk about the week a little more in depth later!
Here is this morning’s sermon. I had a FAB-U-LOUS altar (it was edible!) that I will share pictures of tomorrow. Enjoy!
Rehoboth Congregational Church
July 26, 2015
Through God Nothing Is Insignificant
A few months ago, we had put the plans in motion for the Youth Group to go on a mission trip to Philadelphia this summer. We were in touch with a coordinating organization, had tentatively reserved dates and started advertising the trip.
As the weeks went on, things started to unravel a little bit. Abbie stepped down as Youth Fellowship Director and I stepped in to oversee the trip (and – by the way – travel agent, I am not!). A few of our interested chaperones and students realized that they had conflicts the week we had planned and would not be able to attend. The organization we had been in conversation with was experiencing multiple staff transitions of their own and the staff was not really sure who was going to be in place when it was time for us to sojourn to the City of Brotherly Love.
With each passing day, it was more and more clear to me that this was simply not the year to make this trip. There were too many missing pieces of the puzzle.
Boy was that hard to admit.
I wanted the trip to happen. I love when our kids get to travel, when they get to see a world outside of Rehoboth. I love when they get to serve on a larger scale and see the gospel alive in grandiose ways. I know how much kids have benefited from – and have been changed by – big trips in the past and I wanted to build that strong momentum again. I hated that our kids were going to miss out on something because of things that were happening that were not their fault. They deserved this opportunity.
I was disappointed; I will admit that. The morning of my meeting with the Youth Advisors where I was going to recommend we cancel the trip I sat at my desk feeling slightly defeated.
And then I opened my email.
As I was browsing through my messages I came across an email from an organization called The Outdoor Church. I had never heard of this organization before and truthfully, I have no idea how they got my email address (but boy am I glad they did, though!).
The subject line of the email said, “Summer Mission Opportunities.”
I opened the email and held my breath as I watched a video embedded into the message about an organization that brings church to people living on the streets in Boston. They do not exist within the structure of a building. They hold worship outside, they celebrate communion on the streets, they collect socks and clothing items for people in need and take to the streets with stocked coolers on wheels and distribute food to people living in homelessness multiple times a week.
And not only did they have available dates for service this summer, one of those dates was the Saturday of the week we had blocked off for the mission trip that was falling apart before my very eyes.
There are moments in my life when I know than God’s grace is more powerful than anything that I can obsessively plan and control here on earth. This was one of those moments.
The Youth Advisors and I agreed on a change of plans. Instead of a big mission trip, we would plan day trips to local service sites, ending with our work at the Outdoor Church on this one Saturday. And so – the Week of Service was born!
All of our gears were spinning that week. I got us signed up to work with the Outdoor Church and the Attleboro Area Council of Churches Summer Lunch Program. Jodi McKearney signed us up to run activities one afternoon at the LifeCare rehabilitative and nursing care facility. Keri-Ann Kreyssig connected with the Rhode Island Food Bank and they then got me in touch with the Franklin Farm in Cumberland, a farm that supplies the food bank with fresh vegetables. We had an absolutely FANTASTIC week of service planned.
Fast forward to a little less than two weeks ago.
There were two kids signed up to participate.
Listen. Y’all. I know I preach trust and grace and faith and hope and all of these wonderful theologies of resurrection, but sometimes when the rubber meets the road and I am trying to plan something, I just lose focus on what is really important.
After a small meltdown on my part, RSVPs slowly started to trickle in. Eventually we had enough people to meet our minimum commitments, but that was about it. In the end, I was grateful the week had come together, but – if I am being honest – was a little disappointed it was not going to be the huge and monumental experience that I had originally imagined it to be.
I just did not think that it was going to be enough.
Well, God’s grace is an amazing thing.
On Tuesday morning – the start of our week – we had three kids take part in the day that had not originally intended to. By Wednesday we had six kids take part in the day that had not originally intended to. And then – they were hooked.
We had an absolutely incredible week. We had the opportunity to work with children, adults and the elderly. We played games, sorted food, weeded gardens and handed out food. We learned about organizations that we desperately want to partner with again. We met basic needs, but were also able to help on systemic levels. We harvested 132 pounds of vegetables for the Rhode Island Food Bank. We served food to over 100 people on the streets of Boston. We worked in Attleboro, Providence, Cumberland and Boston. We drove, we walked and we took the T. We jammed out to country music, classical music and – I’ll admit it – Taylor Swift. We were delighted when some of the organizations allowed younger kids to take part in the activities and – with joy! – invited some of our middle school students to some of our service sites.
This past week ten adults from the Rehoboth Congregational Church took part in the Week of Service. They accompanied 19 students throughout the week.
19 students who came of their own accord.
19 students who stepped outside of their comfort zones in order to make a difference in someone’s life.
19 students who were polite, enthusiastic and compassionate.
19 students who let God use them and their small piece of this puzzle of life to do something grandiose and incredible.
This week proved to me once again that when God is involved, nothing is ever small.
This morning we heard the story of the loaves and the fishes. Oftentimes when we hear this story, we are reminded of the truth that God always provides. But as I reflected on this story while I watched our incredible week unfold, I could not help but think that perhaps this story also acts as different reminder; as a reminder that God always has the ability to transform something that may seem small and insignificant to us into something abundant and grace-filled.
The disciples had what seemed like five loaves and two fish – and they fed 5,000 people.
I had what appeared to be a failed mission trip and a Week of Service with two students – and I experienced a week full of unexplainable grace, truth and hope. I experienced the Gospel this week.
As long as you live, please never forget this one fact; that through God nothing is insignificant.
Believe in grace.
Believe in abundance.
Believe in God’s ability to transform us to be ministers of the Gospel in a world that so desperately need to hear that Good News.
Thanks be to God!