At the end of June I had the blessing of being on a mission trip to Minneapolis with some of our youth and adults. We were exposed to homelessness, poverty, and life’s challenges in ways we have not experienced before. During the days we worked at food shelves, community centers, food banks, and thrift stores focused on helping people with intellectual disabilities. In the evenings we had activities encouraging us to think about what life is like for people struggling financially. For example, one evening in groups of five we were tasked to take the city bus to a grocery store, buy dinner supplies for 5 people with only $7.25, and then make our meal. We also heard a personal witness from Cynthia, a woman who overcame abuse and poverty with help from others, and now works to help people move beyond poverty. During our busy week we also found time to pray and play together.
We are thankful for everyone who supported us on the trip with money and prayers. Thank you to the adults who made the trip possible by taking the time and energy to serve as chaperones. I am especially thankful to each of our youth who were on the trip. They were amazing, and surpassed all of my hopes in how they responded to the opportunities we were given. Without complaining they took on unpleasant tasks, they often were the first to volunteer for work tasks, and with laughter we worked through the days. The youth showed respect to people many others do not take the time to greet, and they unabashedly opened their hearts to God’s love. We have great children and youth in our midst, and I pray we grow in ways that show our care and love for their spiritual growth. I also pray that we adults learn from the kids, and open our hearts to new opportunities of sharing God’s grace in the world around us. When we do so we really shine with the light of Christ! In Christ, Pastor Karen
Last Sunday at worship we celebrated love and looked at the story Jesus told about the ‘Good Samaritan.’ After telling people to love God and love others as we should love ourselves Jesus used the example of the Good Samaritan to describe how we are to love and care for others. When I asked people of all ages to share how they would characterize the Good Samaritan, children, youth and adults gave a wonderful array of answers including: generous, compassionate, non-judgmental, caring, determined, not defined by social standards, faithful, and inclusive. One of the things I so appreciate about Pilgrim members and friends, is that I see so many of these characterizations being demonstrated in very practical ways. Although many of the characterizations listed are counter cultural in today’s world, I hope and pray we challenge ourselves to be Great Samaritans who love God so we can love ourselves and others better. Let’s nurture an environment where everybody knows they have a place where they belong and are loved.