Serve and Love through Presence

Weekly Reflection for World Mission Sunday, Sunday, March 3, 2019

By: Allison Dunaway

During our time in Ecuador, each team member shared a devotional on one given evening. I was fortunate to be able to prepare mine while spending several hours in solitude at El Refugio, a 300-acre wooded, mountainous Christian retreat center outside of Quito. El Refugio is a “thin space”, where the distance between heaven and earth seems thinner, and we’re just a little bit closer to the divine.

As I sat in those peaceful surroundings, the Prayer Attributed to St. Francis came to mind, as it had many times during the course of the week. God whispered those sacred words into my head and my heart with each home I visited and each new person I encountered.

Lord, make us instruments of your peace. Where there is
hatred, let us sow love…Grant that we may not so much seek to
be consoled as to console; to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love. For it is in giving that we receive; it is
in pardoning that we are pardoned; and it is in dying that we
are born to eternal life.
 (BCP p. 833)

The generosity of the congregation of Misión Emaús deeply moved me. The St. Mary’s team worked, taught, and healed, but I always felt that we received more spiritually than we gave physically. As I pondered all that had occurred during our time in Ecuador, I realized that St. Francis’ prayer is one of action. It tells us how to truly serve God—and each other. God does not need us to make grand gestures. He just wants us to be present for one another. No act of love is too small for Him. Cooking a meal, giving a hug, sharing a conversation—God is present in, and is the source of, these everyday acts of kindness. We glorify Him and bring the Kingdom of God a tiny bit closer to Earth with each one.

As I prayed in the hills of El Refugio that day, it occurred to me that perhaps the last sentence of the prayer isn’t referring to physical death. Perhaps the message is that we are closest to God when we die to ourselves, and seek to serve one another in all things. When we love one another.