St Andrew Blog

Open Our Eyes

bulletineyeOpen Our Eyes

On Sunday, Knute Ogren from Camp Calumet (…if you don’t know about Calumet, learn more about this transformative camp at calumet.org…) told us a story about a restaurant he used to go to a few times a week. He’d sit at the bar, and while he was at that bar, he’d have conversations with the folks who worked there or the person who sat a few bar stools away. And it turned out, that those conversations were amazing and transforming. All because they actually saw one another.

How often do we not see people around us? We’re caught in our own little bubble, trying to get back to work after a lunch break, that we don’t notice the young man sitting on the curb with his head in his hands. We’re trying to get through the line at the grocery store as quick as possible that we miss the frantic face of the cashier. Maybe we purposefully look away, or make assumptions, or judge the person who doesn’t meet our standards.

We hear in Genesis that all of us are created in the image of God. Which means that God is in that young man sitting on the curb…and that grocery store worker…and that person we unfairly judge…and sitting at the bar in a restaurant. Let’s slow down and open our eyes, so we can see God all around us. And we’ll be transformed by who we see.

Be OPEN!

 

 

Be OPEN! 

Can you believe it is already time to think about Ash Wednesday ?  Didn’t we just celebrate Christmas???? 

Well, like it or not . . . .ready . . . . or not. . . . . this week is Ash Wednesday which marks the beginning of lent.  This year we started making the turn towards lent a bit early.  Last Sunday we heard the story of Jesus being tempted in the wilderness.  That story helps us see the temptation—so close at hand for all of us, too—of closing ourselves off from God’s grace and mercy.

It’s not that we’re tempted exactly like Jesus was tempted—we’re not confronted with “Son-of-God” level temptations . . . . But we are tempted all the time in our culture . . . . .  to close ourselves off.  We’re tempted to close our eyes and ears to the truth about our deepest selves and the needs of others.  We’re tempted to divide our loyalties, to withhold our whole hearts.  We’re tempted to close our hands and refrain from helping others and sharing what God gave us . . . . . .

That’s why we need a season like lent.  We need a 40-day cleanse . . . . . . not so much in terms of what we eat or don’t eat, but in terms of coming clean about who we are, what we need and who’s strength and love we ultimately depend on. 

Lent at St. Andrew this year will be about being OPEN—or really being OPEN-ed.  The five Sundays will focus on letting God open our eyes and ears and hearts and hands and our lives.  It will be about going deeper in our faith to make the connection between the painfully open hands of Jesus on the cross and our need to be opened by the healing that flows from those hands.  Join us.

Doing What You Love

 

Doing What You Love

There are lots of things in life that each of us HAS to do—whether we like it or not.  It’s true at home and in our families . . .  where dishes have to be washed, yards have to be mowed, errands have to be run, diapers have to be changed, parents have to be brought to medical appointments.  But there are also things each of us has to do in our WORK life.  Maybe it’s the year-end report, or the sales call to that really difficult client; or perhaps it’s the annual review that you dread or the piling on of yet another project on your already full plate. 

Well, it’s no different for pastors.  There are aspects of our work that we would do whether we were paid or not!  That’s the stuff we LOVE to do!  That’s the work God created us to do.  It’s the work  which most closely matches our best gifts and abilities.  It corresponds to the things about your work that really float your boat; that confirm you made the right career or volunteering choice and that you’re on the right track.

Well, after feeling kind of fatigued this spring and early summer, I feel like summer camps really brought me back to life and got me back on track.  Whatever else God wants me to be doing, I feel confident that summer camps are part of the mix. 

It’s not planning crafts [Kerry does that], or coordinating afternoon visitors [Erin makes that happen].  It’s not even about creating the theme and daily learning times—though that’s not unimportant.  For me, the heart of my calling is to affirm and draw out the gifts and leadership potential of others—and that means campers AND volunteers. 

It takes a village to make our summer camps happen, and the key is welcoming people to do the piece God created them for; the piece that fits with the purpose they see unfolding for their life.  Because we all have different gifts, we’re not all doing the same things.  Some of us excel at hospitality and can purchase, prepare and serve snacks with a smile.  Some of us like to come in and do one BIG special project like making cement garden stones for 60 day campers.  Some are willing to clean bathrooms on really hot sticky summer afternoons, to give others time to prepare for the next day.  Some of our youth are willing to spend a week [or even two] taking charge of a group of kids—teaching, supervising, playing, hanging out.  Then there are adults that are willing to take a full week away and sleep in a gymnasium with 100 youth while painting or building a wheelchair ramp in a small town in Virginia! 

When we all do our part, and use our gifts for the good of others we grow in leadership and community.  We grow faith in ourselves--and others.  We make a difference.

It warms my heart when I hear from kids or parents that their week of Kinder Camp or Day Camp, Beach Camp, Mountain Camp or Mission Camp was the best week of their summer!  It means that we have created opportunities for kids and youth to experience God, to learn about themselves and to serve others using the gifts God gave them. 

For me, this adds up to doing what I love.

 

Making a Difference in Virginia

St. Andrew's high school youth made a difference in the lives of yet another community. For many years, St. Andrew has been traveling around the country to participate in Group mission trips where youth repair homes for people in need. This year, youth traveled to Pocahontas, Virginia--a coal mining town that recently experienced flooding. 
 
Youth built decks, handicap ramps, and put a new roof on houses. They painted, repaired and put in new flooring, and cleaned up yards. They worked really hard, didn't get a lot of sleep, and yet continued to have a generous heart to share with everyone they met. They made new friends from seven different states and were shaped by the generosity and hospitality of the people they met from the Pocahontas community.  
 
Mission campers saw God at work. They were God's hands and feet. And we give thanks for the faithful example they are for each of us