this weekend a group of 17 of us from catawissa avenue united methodist church headed south to mechanicsburg, pennsylvania to spend the day at mission central, an enormous warehouse that serves as a locus for several different ministries in the central pennsylvania area, as well as UMCOR, the united methodist committee on relief, one of the world's primary relief organizations in times of disaster.
we carpooled down pretty early and spent the day learning about the facility and the ministries housed there, and then participating in them! we checked and assembled hygiene kits, layette kits, and flood buckets, among other things. we ranged in age from 8 to well, a good deal older than 8, but i think, in our own individual ways, we all learned some things and remembered again the joy of serving others. many of those who went have already been asking about when we can go back, which i think speaks to the human need we all share to be a part of something bigger than us, something that helps, something that makes this world a better place. its a need we've been paying more attention to at our church, recognizing that we only really ever have a chance to be our true selves when we have figured out how to give ourselves away in love. we're working on it.
we feel pretty convinced that God has called us to be a people of hope. having just entered into the season of easter, that feeling is especially pronounced. we refuse to be a people who proclaim robustly on easter: "he is risen!" only to be silenced by dire predictions and dour headlines in the days that follow. we live in the light of resurrection. we live in the desperate hope that the one who turned back the hands of death, will also set everything else right. we live in the humbling belief that God has called us to be a part of the process. and so our hope is not ours alone. in fact, it hardly exists at all if it is something we insist on keeping insulated inside the doors of our hearts or our own experiences or our own isolated, "personal" faith journey. no, our hope is really only true when we work at finding ways to share it with others who don't - or can't - see it.
and so we are working on it: always working on it. always growing. always reminding each other of our sure and certain hope: that we are not alone. that we are the body of Christ. that love is alive, in us and through us and among us and around us and for us. and as we come to realize that more and more, we can't help but make it our mantra, our lifesong, our central mission: to love as we have been loved. to offer hope in places of despair. to count clothespins for floodbuckets and fold onesies for layette kits because its just one way we can live in this hope. and living in this hope is our only hope.