God Never Said That: It Doesn’t Matter What You Do

Sunday’s Scripture ~ Psalm 8:4 and Revelation 3:14-22.

This week while serving as the Middle School Worship Leader at the Warren Willis United Methodist Camp in Fruitland Park I have had the privilege of reconnecting with one of my former youth that is now an amazing young adult leader. Her name is Greer.

I met Greer as a ninth grader in my small group at St. Luke’s UMC Orlando. She was bold and opinionated. And her favorite word was annoying! I walked with Greer through highs and lows. We shared many conversations about work ethic, goals, fears, dreams, and sun screen. We talked about the presence of God. We talked about the absence of God. We asked tough questions. We sought tough answers. In many ways we grew up together.

Some of my most formative relationships growing up were with my youth counselors. As I think back to those conversations, I am amazed to realize that those conversations I participated in fifteen years ago are the same conversations I shared with Greer five years ago are the same conversations I am overhearing Greer share with campers this week.

This behavior – this kind of investment and care for our sisters and brothers in Christ that are coming after us – it is learned. Someone has to teach us. Someone has to share with us. Then we share and teach this behavior to others. And God’s gift of discipleship lives on.

As I see all of the campers, counselors, camp staff, and adult volunteers this week I am filled again with hope for the church. I am filled with assurance that what I do – how I serve, how I lead, how I study, how I engage in relationships and behaviors – matters. What I do is an example for others, for good or for ill, for sickness or for health. And when I look into the eyes of these middle school campers – these 11 to 13 year olds – I want them to know what a life lived in fun and faith looks like. I want them to know that a life of fun and faith exists and that it is available to them! I want them to know that they can choose a life of faith and be fulfilled.

But it is one thing to say it. And it is another thing to see it.

My youth counselors lived what they said. I strive to live what I say. And I am humbled to see the fruit of those seeds in my youth…like what I see in Greer. What she does for the Kingdom matters…and the fact that God made a way for me to be a part and a continuing part of Greer’s story is amazing.

I give thanks for those that taught me the importance of investing in people – that taught me the importance of discipleship. I will continue to live in response to those gifts. I will invest in others.

They matter. You matter.

And what we do matters.

Prayer: “Lord whose love through humble service bore the weight of human need, who upon the cross, forsaken, offered mercy’s perfect deed: we your servants, bring the worship not of voice alone, but heart. Consecrating to your purpose every gift that you impart. Called by worship to your service, forth in your dear name we go to the child, the youth, the aged, love in living deeds to show; hope and health, good will and comfort, counsel, aid, and peace we give, that your servants, Lord, in freedom may your mercy know, and live.”* Amen.

*”Lord, Whose Love Through Humble Service,” The United Methodist Hymnal 581.

 

Strong and Courageous: Gift The Generations

Sunday’s Scripture ~ Psalm 71:18

The focus of our Scripture passage this week is investment – both our investment in others as well as our investment in doing God’s work.  “Even to old age and grey hairs!” we need to be about the business of doing God’s work.

I confess – I have grey hairs – but I’m nowhere near done because God is nowhere near done.

Where do we learn about investment?  I think – and have experienced firsthand – fabulous instruction about investment from people who have invested in me.

I serve as a volunteer in the youth ministry program that Andrew directs.  This past Sunday that church held a commissioning dinner for the adult volunteers that would be working with all “students” in the church this coming year – from bottles and diapers to true “old age and grey hairs.”  It was shared in that  training that one of the greatest gifts a teacher can give to a student is not information about the teacher’s respective subject matter, but knowing the names of his or her respective students.

One of my favorite YouTube videos is a poetic piece done in the spoken-word style subjecting Jesus’ conversation with the Woman at the Well in John 4.  You can watch the video by clicking here.  The refrain of this spoken-work declares, “to be known is to be loved and to be loved is to be known.”

We are known by others because others invested in us.  We are loved by others through the same action – because others invested in us.

Weekly I have the privilege of investing in elementary students at the neighboring school to Reeves where I serve as a helper and mentor in a first grade classroom.  Weekly I have the privilege of investing in high school students as a volunteer in the youth ministry program that Andrew directs.  Weekly I have the privilege of investing in the community of faith that gathers at Reeves as I trust God to do what God does and make something out of the sermons I offer.  And I am convinced that I am able to do this sort of investment because of the folks that are investing in me, like:

  • My sweet mother who sends me an email every Sunday night to say that she prayed for me that morning, that she hopes I had a good day, and that she loves me.
  • My incredible partner in life, Andrew, who is a wonderful sounding board; cheerleader; and fount of strength, “thatta girl”s, keep goings, and true passion
  • Friends and colleagues that send completely unexpected yet completely intentional calls, emails, texts, and carrier pigeons (I’m sure the carrier pigeons are on their way…) to encourage, to console, to celebrate what’s going on.
  • The teachers in my life – spanning the secular, sacred, and social realms that took the time – and still take the time – to know my name and check up on me.

In the days that await me – until I achieve “old age and grey hairs” I want to display this kind of investment to others.  This is a vital gift that God invites and commissions me to offer to the present and coming generations.

Reflection: Who invested in you?  In whom can you invest?  What is your timeline to begin this investment?

Prayer: “We will work with each other, we will work side by side.  We will work with each other, we will work side by side, and we’ll guard each one’s dignity and save each one’s pride.   And they’ll know we are Christians by our love, by our love, Yes, they’ll know we are Christians by our love.”* Amen.

*”They’ll Know We Are Christians By Our Love” from The Faith We Sing, 2223.