On Sunday, July 10th, I traveled to Hammond, Indiana with the 24 youth and 5 adults from St. Louis participating in a Group WorkCamp, a Home Repair Mission Trip. It was my first WorkCamp and I was nervous. What would be required of me?
Sunday evening, we were assigned a project and a crew. A group of four youth from different parts of the country, and myself were assigned the task of painting a room and constructing a porch for a couple who were at risk of being cited for code violations and needed help. Two of the youth had some carpentry experience; I’ve only wielded a hammer to hang pictures! The task seemed daunting, not least because we didn’t know one another and weren’t sure we even wanted to be in a group together. Our resident was kind, gracious, considerate. He had cookies and Mountain Dew (nectar of the gods for teenagers!) waiting for us every day. He went out of his way to buy peanut butter Klondike ice cream bars because he saw that one girl in our group ate PBJ sandwiches every day! But he was also a member of Fundamentalist Baptist Church with quite different views on everything from the roles of men and women, to interfaith relationships and he gave us pamphlets encouraging us to be saved and make a decision for Christ. How on earth would we all get along — much less, accomplish our project?
Every day it seemed there were setbacks...a tree needed to be removed, we didn’t have the right materials, the design of the porch needed to be changed. We made mistakes. But we had help! Howard, our site supervisor, even took some of our flawed work and incorporated it into the finished project. And on Friday afternoon we all laid our hands on a completed porch and blessed it...and on Friday evening, our resident joined us in worship and a circle of affirmation, telling how every person’s gifts had contributed to the completion of our project.
It had to be God. It had to be the power of the Holy Spirit. And I was reminded of God’s steadfast love which takes ordinary people, ordinary gifts, ordinary tools and makes something extraordinary. I was reminded to “trust the process” — which, for me, means trusting the Holy Spirit. To lean not on my own strength and understanding, but on God’s.
Every Sunday, God takes something ordinary -- bread and wine -- and does something extraordinary. God forgives us our sin and turns that which curves in on self out toward that which serves neighbor. God receives our doubt and our faith, our anger and our pain, our sin and our gifts and makes something beautiful — a people of God, the Body of Christ, church together for the sake of the world.
Amen. May it be so.