Spiritual Beauty of a Mission Trip

Weekly Reflection, Sunday, August 5, 2018

By: Jack Deutsch, a rising senior

It was the summer of 2017, a mission trip to the Rosebud reservation completely altered my view on society. Upon arriving at the reservation, we immediately saw the differences between life at home and at the reservation. Decaying houses and neighborhoods of trailer homes littered the landscape of the reservation.

Throughout the next couple of days, my experiences with the kids during Vacation Bible School (VBS) allowed me to gain a new perspective on life. The kids were joyful and filled with energy like any other children in the world, even though they had to cope with hardships in their community. Because of VBS, I obtained a newfound appreciation for what I have been given.

This year, our mission trip took us to California where we worked in the L.A. regional food bank and with Habitat for Humanity. Matt told us before we left Richmond that our goal for the trip was to spread God’s love and discover what “God’s love” meant to us. After reflecting on these trips, I discovered that God’s love is people less fortunate than yourself expressing themselves – making new friends and gaining self-confidence. My experience with mission trips has transformed my perspective on service and has enabled me to share my blessings with others.

I have gained appreciation for the many opportunities I am given to make a difference in the world. Because of my experiences in South Dakota and California, I truly feel like I have been transformed and given a new perspective of society. I encourage everyone to spread God’s love and experience the spiritual beauty of a mission trip.

New Foundation Stones

Weekly Reflection, Sunday, July 22, 2018

By: David May

Bishop Frank Gray, former Assistant Bishop, said that we all have ‘foundation stones’ that inform how we understand key theological concepts like creation, sin, reconciliation, and grace, among others. He meant that we all have experiences – many from very early on in our lives – that inform our understanding of God’s work in the world and within each of our lives. For example, one of my ‘foundation stones’ for creation is an experience of being at the beach. What speaks to me is the sound of the waves crashing, the seagulls crying, little crabs scurrying around nearby, and joy and wonder in all of God’s works.

One of my ‘foundation stones’ for sin is ‘the first day of school’. Those first years of grade school always felt like an existential crisis – though I certainly didn’t call it that! I absolutely dreaded ‘the first day of school’. Summer was over. We all had to wear scratchy, stiff new clothes. But mostly, it was being tossed into a group where I had no idea who anyone was or where I fit in or even if I did. But along with that are ‘foundation stones’ of grace where I remember someone saying my shoes were cool (does anyone remember PF Flyers?!), or some other kindness that was manna in the wilderness.

Which all leads me to want to say how very grateful to God I am for you, each of you, and for new ‘foundation stones’ of grace given in the welcome you’ve offered to me and to my wife Emmy. I want to say thank you, truly, from my heart. So many have offered such a warm welcome. I am so grateful for Andrew and Bob, for Ashley and Ryan and Elizabeth and Mike and Duke and Deedi and Amelia and Paul and Matt and Gersain; for Tracey and Russell and our amazing vestry members, for members of our search committee, for all those who have written letters and emails of welcome, for all those who’ve popped in to shake my hand or hug my neck, for all of those who made special preparations for ice cream sundaes, for the breathtaking flower arrangement, for special musical offerings, and for just coming to church last Sunday to say welcome. Thank God for you, for each of you, new ‘foundation stones’ of grace.