by Pr. Manda
On September 9th, CGS will once again take part in the ELCA’s coordinated day of service. Since 2013, thousands of congregations in our church have participated in this dedicated day to serve their communities in ways that share the love of God with all of God’s people. It has become a way that we can be “church together” and “church for the sake of the world.” Though, we acknowledge that it is not our work being done, but rather it is God’s work (through) our hands being done in our community.
I’ve always loved this day in our year because it’s a way for us to tangibly meet and respond to our immediate community. I’ve seen the results of God’s work making the earth bloom in our concrete city. I’ve heard the words of grateful compassion that others experience in our sweat and consideration. I love to witness all the people of CGS building relationships and trust with people in the parks and the leaders of the LGBTQ Youth Space.
However, each year that I’ve witnessed God’s work through your hands, I’ve also mourned how so many people in our congregation are excluded from service because the opportunities are impossible with their abilities. Cleaning the ditches, tending to the rose garden, painting public buildings, and cleaning the youth space are all very physical jobs.
This year, I’m excited that Michael Flanagin found us an opportunity that everyone can participate in. By partnering with Rise Against Hunger to package 10,000 meals for hungry people around the world, we have an activity that is structured in a way to include those who need to be seated, those who can’t lift heavy objects, and those whose motor skills are still developing.
If I’m honest, I mourn a little that these meals won’t be served to hungry people in our own city. I also mourn that we won’t be sharing our time and space with those whom we’re serving. But this year, in the interest of serving together, as the whole community of CGS, I’m excited that we have the opportunity and the resources to respond to the hunger of our siblings in Christ all over the world.
I remember when I did something similar as a youth myself. Learning about how food relief is delivered around the world, from our own abundance was eye opening. Sharing in that process with my friends and family was rewarding. I’m excited for all of us to have that experience together on September 9th. In the ELCA’s materials about this day, they remind us:
All of life in Jesus Christ – every act of service, in every daily calling, in every corner of life – flows freely from a living, daring confidence in God’s grace.
Knowing that this “living, daring confidence in God’s grace” exists in your lives and here in the community of CGS, I’m looking forward to celebrating who we are – people freed in Christ to serve the world.