Monday, July 21, 2008

Serving Christ in the World

This past June, 23 young people from across the country congregated in Chicago. This was to be a three-week immersion program, including time in the city of Chicago, Mexico City, Cuernevaca (to the south), and north of the U.S.-Mexico border in Texas. The title of this program was "Serving Christ in the World."

And I will never forget it.

It wasn't just that I was changed as one of the mentors (which I was, more than I could have ever imagined). Or that the youth changed me (which they did; we each had 3-4 youth in a covenant group, with whom we met daily). Or that I had a good time (which I most certainly did) or found out I love working with youth (which, crazily enough, I do). Or even that I'll never forget these young people, who gave up a part of their summer to do this work (which I won't...and they did...with gusto - I don't know if I could have done what they did when I was their age).

No. It's so much more than that. It's that God was present in those three weeks, in a way I don't have words to describe. It always happens like that, you know? Every time I think I've got God figured out, or that I know how and when God normally shows up, God does it again. God breaks out of the pathetically small boxes we create, and bursts into the world, here and now.

Serving Christ in the world. What does this look like? The 23 phenomenal young people approached this question with daring, with passion, with hope. And we were all changed for the better.

So to all those people of God, I say thank you. Thank you for opening my eyes to the fact that we'll never be able to categorize our God, but that God will continue to break down walls - and refuse to let us get away. We are God's beloved.

What they did was remind me of this. As I head to internship in Bradenton, Florida (which starts August 1), what I needed was a refresher course. And, thank God, I got it - in abundance. I got a full dose of God's mercy, which, in the words of author Anne Lamott, meets us where we are, but doesn't leave us where it finds us.

Amen to that.


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