I am preparing devotions to accompany our youth group on its mission trip. Each night we’ll settle in with a little music and prayer and talk about what we’re seeing and doing in the context of Scripture.
I anticipate a lot to see and do! We’ll be in Ferguson, Missouri, so issues of race and racism will be part of our experience. We’ll be working for a community center and an urban garden, which serve families at risk. We’ll participate in an interfaith Walk of Trust with people from around St. Louis (check it out at pilgrimageoftruststl.com). On the way down, we’ll visit the Tri-Faith Campus in Omaha and tour the synagogue there.
We’re going in with open eyes and open hands, trusting God to provide ways for us to see Christ in the people we meet, and do small works of justice and compassion.
The 11 of us will come back to Matthew 25:31-40 as our guide every evening. Popularly known as the sheep and goats story, this is the end-times judgment as Jesus tells it, when the Son of Man comes to judge the nations and separates the sheep (the saved) from the goats (the damned) based on how they treat those who are hungry, thirsty, a stranger, naked, sick or imprisoned.
Not based on what they believed. But on what they did.
The way Jesus tells it, it’s not enough to proclaim that God is love, or to believe in the saving power of love, you’ve got to actively love, with real food, drink, welcome, clothing, visits. He says in doing that, we will meet him.
What’s more, I expect the giving will go both ways, as we receive hospitality from local churches and people we meet. Our encounter with Christ in the city will be through mutual welcome and care. It will be through recognizing the common humanity we share with our sisters and brothers in Ferguson.
“I was a stranger and you welcomed me,” says the Son of Man. That’ll be us in St. Louis. Both the strangers, and the welcomers. Please pray for all of us on the trip.
Serving with you,
P.S. Brian and Nicole Sedlacek are generously taking a week off work to lead this trip. Many thanks to them!